Microsoft, RIM look to entice mobile developers

The companies are updating their developer tools for Windows Phone and PlayBook

Microsoft and RIM are making moves to assist application developers building for the vendors' respective handheld platforms, with Microsoft updating developer tools for Windows Phone and RIM upgrading a simulator for the upcoming RIM PlayBook tablet.

Microsoft late last week published an update to its Windows Phone Developer Tools, supporting copy and paste and improved performance. Tools feature updated reference assemblies, a new version of the Windows Phone OS emulator image, and minor bug fixes, said Microsoft's Brandon Watson, a director for Windows Phone 7, in a blog post.

[ Microsoft in late-December reported having shipped more than 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 devices to retailers. Meanwhile in the RIM space, rumors have floated suggesting RIM will adopt Google's Dalvik JVM for the PlayBook. | Learn how to manage iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and other smartphones in InfoWorld's 20-page Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF special report.]

"In practical terms, this is the Tools update that supports the forthcoming addition of copy and paste, improved app performance, and other enhancements for Windows Phone. All apps that are in Windows Phone Marketplace will continue to work on any phone that gets updated to the new version of the OS. Any app built using this new version of the tools will also work on phones that have not been updated to the new OS," Watson said. The Windows Phone software platform will be fitted with copy and paste capabilities in the next few months.

The tools update replaces the October 2010 update. "If you are building a new machine with a new developer environment, this version of the Windows Phone Developer Tools is all you need," Watson said. Applications will benefit from changes made in the forthcoming OS update, said Watson.

Boosting its upcoming PlayBook tablet, RIM is offering on Tuesday an updated version of the BlackBerry Tablet OS Simulator, which embeds the full BlackBerry browser. The simulator can be found at the BlackBerry website. Web developers can test Web and Flash applications using the browser on the simulator, RIM said.

"With this updated simulator, our Web development community can now start testing their Web applications and Adobe Flash applications to ensure that they fully support the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet at launch," said Mike Kirkup, director of the RIM developer relations program, in a blog post. PlayBook is due to ship by April.

With BlackBerry Browser running on BlackBerry Tablet OS, the user agent will continue to match the current user agent pattern used with BlackBerry smartphone products, enabling developers to leverage investments placed in building Web pages optimized for BlackBerry. The browser builds on the existing support for Web standards by adding support for HTML5 video and audio. Adobe Flash 10.1 is supported by the browser as well.

Also in the Microsoft mobile phone vein, Microsoft has entered into a partnership with Zones.com, handset manufacturers, and mobile operators to sell phones to developers without requiring a voice or data contract. "The phones are still carrier-locked (varies by region), but you can now head over to Zones.com to purchase a Windows Phone 7 for your development purposes," said Watson. Developers can sign up at this Zones.com website. Also, Microsoft is offering assistance on its Windows Phone Interoperability site for developers who have built for other platforms to ramp up for Windows Phone 7.

This article, "Microsoft, RIM look to entice mobile developers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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