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Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Windows Phone, Kinect New Usage Scenarios and Device Capabilities at MIX11


Microsoft executives today showcased the next version of the Windows Phone operating system and other next-generation applications that span phones, PCs and other devices.

Building on Tuesday's keynote, Microsoft demonstrated the value of developing for HTML5 and the standards-based Web with Internet Explorer 9 on PCs running Windows and Internet Explorer 9 on Windows Phone. With the forthcoming release of Windows Phone codenamed "Mango" and coming later this year, Microsoft is providing developers with more hardware capabilities, better browsing and improved tooling, as well as expanded opportunities and Windows Phone Marketplace options.

"The next release of Windows Phone represents the evolution of our strategy for ensuring that developers are at the forefront of 'what's next' by investing in even richer customer experiences, a powerful application platform and a thriving ecosystem," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president, Windows Phone Program Management. "We will soon deliver a new set of Windows Phone Developer Tools that will enable developers to create a new generation of apps that are even faster, more capable and better integrated with Windows Phone."

Mango will introduce some new features, including multitasking capability, a hardware-accelerated mobile version of Internet Explorer 9, Twitter in the People hub, better support for Office documents in SkyDrive (Microsoft?s free cloud-based storage service), and much more.

Today, Microsoft provided the first deep look at the development platform for the next version of Windows Phone, arriving on new and existing handsets later this year. Developers will soon have updated Windows Phone Developer Tools. Improved tools include a performance profiler and sensor simulation, enabling developers to build more integrated and high-performing applications. The new application platform enables developers to take advantage of the following:

- Application multitasking for background processing, audio and file transfer, and fast application switching
- Deeper phone integration so apps can, for example, take better advantage of the versatility of Live Tiles
- Access to the camera and Motion Sensor library so developers can build apps that incorporate device hardware and build augmented reality experiences

Developers will be able to take advantage of these new capabilities to create even more creative and engaging Windows Phone apps and games.

The free Windows Phone Developer Tools for the new Windows Phone OS will be available to developers in May.

Today, Microsoft also provided an early glimpse of app concepts for the next version of Windows Phone OS with new experiences from Skype, Spotify, Layar, Qantas, Amazon Shopping and Kik Messenger.

Microsoft also noted that May is the month when Xbox's Must Have Games program for Windows Phone will launch. The program features six hot new titles for the phone, including Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, Plants vs. Zombies and more.

Microsoft also explained the delay in updating its new phone software on Wednesday.

Microsoft initially said an update to the software would be available early in 2011, but it has not yet been implemented for many users.

"We had expected it to be earlier than now," Joe Belfiore, head of Microsoft's Windows phone program, said at MIX 2011 software developer conference on Wednesday.

Belfiore said the company had started the update, but ran into problems on some newly manufactured phones that would not function properly afterward.

Once the company found the problems, it overhauled its update procedure, said Belfiore.

Kinect for Xbox 360, recently recognized by Guinness World Records as the fastest-selling consumer device in 60 days, allows users to enjoy games and entertainment with their whole body and voice - no controller required. Since Kinect launched in November 2010, enthusiasts have been exploring the potential of Kinect in a number of unexpected, nongaming scenarios. Today at MIX, Microsoft detailed some of the features in the Kinect for Windows Beta SDK from Microsoft Research coming in the spring, including the following:

- Robust Skeletal Tracking for high-performance capabilities that track the skeleton image of one or two persons moving within the Kinect field of view
- Advanced Audio Capabilities, including four-element microphone array with sophisticated acoustic noise and echo cancellation for great audio; beam formation to identify the current sound source and integration with the Windows speech recognition API also included
- XYZ depth camera for standard color camera stream access and depth data that indicates the distance of the object from the Kinect camera

Onstage, Microsoft showcased examples of what is possible using the SDK, including WorldWide Telescope and several community projects. Frog design inc. created a Kinect-powered "Wall Panic" PC game, in which players contort their bodies until they match a shape descending on a large screen. This work typifies the creative groundswell of Kinect usage scenarios being delivered by enthusiasts, developers and academics.

Microsoft also announced the immediate availability of the beta for Microsoft Silverlight 5, which provides advances in rich media and application development. New capabilities include Hardware Video Decode, for enhanced video quality and performance, and "Trickplay," which provides variable-rate video playback with audio pitch correction. The Microsoft Silverlight 5 beta also offers a new Microsoft XNA-based interface for delivering 3-D visualizations within applications, along with a host of new features.


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