Both platforms present a unique opportunity for developers to create innovative experiences for consumers and enterprise users alike.

Windows Phone sports numerous applications out of the box that relay on Cloud services to augment the capabilities of the handset on which they run. Such is the case of the Music and Games applications: They connect to the Zune Marketplace and Xbox Live respectively to provide on-the-go media downloads and multi-player gaming experiences.

Custom applications developed for Windows Phone can leverage the benefits of the Cloud too, by connecting to services built on Windows Azure -Microsoft’s public platform as a service offering.

Possible scenarios include storing data off the handset for either backup or sharing, and accessing functionality that requires server-like processing power.

The ability to program on both platforms using .Net and a common toolset based on Visual Studio 2010 creates a special synergy that is rare to find in other offerings. Longtime .Net developers and newcomers alike will certainly find this to be a productivity boon.

Getting started is easy:

1. Download Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone

2. Download the Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio

3. Read the “Create Your First Silverlight Application for Windows Phone” MSDN article

4. Read the “Getting Started Now!” articles at the Azure Developer’s Portal

5. Start something! Yours could be the next Shazam

The tools equip you with emulators that allow developing and debugging on Windows Phone and Windows Azure without the need for an actual handset or Azure account.

In collaboration with selected partners, our team has been building a handful of early showcase applications targeted at relevant scenarios for the region, to add to the more than 3,000 apps already present in the Marketplace.

We will be announcing those shortly here, as well as the launch of Windows Phone and Windows Azure events for developers across the Gulf.

Stay tuned!