In just over a week we (finally!) get to pull the cover off of the Windows Phone application & game developer experience at MIX10. There, through keynotes and more than 12 technical sessions over 3 days, we will “tell all” about the what and how of the new developer platform for Windows Phones.

Today, I get to talk about the why. My previous post on focus hinted at this, but today I get to be even more explicit. In fact, I’m literally down in San Francisco and talking with a few industry watchers about our platform strategy and thought I’d invite you all to the conversation as well.

In addition to the update I’ll share below, we’ll be taking questions via Twitter at @WP7dev (use #wp7dev as well) starting at 6PM PST tonight.

In our announcement of Windows Phone 7 Series at Mobile World Congress on February 15 you saw just how different Windows Phone 7 Series is. It’s different from what we’ve done in the phone space before and it’s different from other phones.

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Different is often good. Especially when it’s different for good reasons. Windows Phone 7 Series is different because we reset everything we were doing to focus on end user experience. This extends directly to the developer platform.

Developers, designers, and producers of applications, games, and content these days are demanding that we be different as well. Over the last year we’ve had face to face conversations with 100s of developers all over the world about what we should do with Windows Phone 7 Series. We heard they want:

  1. to create truly compelling apps and games users will love.
  2. to get more done with better tool productivity and platform capabilities.
  3. greater opportunity; not just on the phone but across the PC, web, and TV/game console.

Microsoft had to change its strategy to accommodate what developers have been asking for. Specifically developers told us to

  • focus on the end user experience and take more responsibility for delivering integrated end user experiences.
  • invest more deeply in the developer platform and developer experience.
  • drive a standardized hardware platform creating a simpler ecosystem and a larger, consistent, opportunity.

The Windows Phone 7 Series developer platform is as different as the new user experience. It’s fresh. It’s pure. And it’s powerful.

We took the feedback we gathered from developers, looked at the full potential of Windows Phone 7 Series and landed on 3 basic goals for the platform we’re delivering;

  1. Enable end users to be able to personalize their phone experience through a large library of innovative, compelling, games and applications.
  2. Enable developers to profit.
  3. Advance the “3 screen plus cloud” vision

The first one is pretty obvious: A key value proposition for Windows Phone is personal. We believe consumers will use games and applications to make their phone experience their own.

(Did you notice we always talk about applications and games? A little factoid I heard today: According eMarketer, the number of people playing games on the phone has more than doubled in recent years;340M people will play games on the phone in 2010 up from 155M in 2007).

But what do we mean by “profit” in the second goal? When we talk with developers we hear them talk about three different “currencies”: making money, learning, and recognition. Some developers are in it for the money. They are either literally being paid to write code or they are writing code with the hope it will generate coin.

Other developers tell us they are interested in advancing their knowledge – love of the game. They love learning about computers, programming, games, social connections, etc… So they build software to learn. They profit by being smarter.

Other developers are clearly motivated by pride. Maybe there’s a bit of money and learning involved, but to these developers being noticed or recognized as doing wickedly epic sh*t is top of the list for how they measure profit.

We think all three “currencies” are valid and important and we are explicitly trying to build the platform and developer experience to support “profit” in each.

The last goal really points to our long term strategy. We hear from people that they want to be able to experience software no matter what screen they are using. The phone, the PC, or the TV. Combine this concept with “Software+Service” and it’s pretty obvious what “3 screens + cloud” means.

I mentioned in my last post that one of our principles was “to build upon the shoulders of giants; where possible integrate instead of create.” It won’t come as a surprise to many to learn that the Windows Phone 7 developer experience builds upon the following GIANTS (among others):

Different often means change. A quick glance at Amazon.com shows me there are literally hundreds of current books on how to manage change in organizations. We all know change can be hard. It’s hard even when you know there’s tremendous upside.

For us, the cost of going from good to great is a clean break from the past. To enable the fantastic user experiences you’ve seen in the Windows Phone 7 Series demos so far we’ve had to break from the past. To deliver what developers expect in the developer platform we’ve had to change how phone apps were written. One result of this is previous Windows mobile applications will not run on Windows Phone 7 Series.

To be clear, we will continue to work with our partners to deliver new devices based on Windows Mobile 6.5 and will support those products for many years to come, so it’s not as though one line ends as soon as the other begins.

The expertise and familiarity with our tools is not lost. If you are a .NET developer today your skills and much of your code will move forward. If you are Silverlight or XNA developer today you’re gonna be really happy. New developers to the platform will find a cohesive, well designed API set with super productive tools.

At MIX you will find out that it’s never been easier, more fun, or more rewarding to create beautiful & compelling phone experiences. Windows Phone 7 Series is a different kind of phone and the development platform offers a different kind of opportunity. Our mission is to help developers go after the next generation of mobile customers with an amazing set of tools and technologies. Developers will be able to bring new kinds of content to more screens and markets faster.

See you there.

P.S. If you like blogs, I suggest you follow these guys as well; they are all part of the extended team of people at Microsoft who are helping to deliver the new platform.

Andre Vrignaud: www.ozymandias.com / @ozymandias

Christian Schormann: electricbeach.org / @cschormann

Shawn Hargreaves: blogs.msdn.com/shawnhar / @shawnhargreaves

Todd Brix: windowsteamblog.com/blogs/windowsphone  / @toddbrix

Anand Iyer: www.artificialignorance.net/blog / @ai

Michael Klucher: klucher.com / @mklucher

 [Edit: 9:16PM PST 3/4/2010 - Fixed Christian's twitter handle]