In a break-neck rundown at Mobilize, Matt Thompson, GM of developer and platform evangelism for Microsoft (s msft), said the company will offer a robust set of tools that should allow developers to write apps in Silverlight or XNA quickly and easily. He said the tools, including an advanced emulator that models the chassis of different phones, helped the developers of the popular iPhone game Babylonian Twins port the game over to Windows Phone 7 in a few days.
Gaming is going to be a key selling point for Windows Phone 7, as Microsoft extends its Xbox Live service to its newest phones. While some have questioned how much success the Xbox Live integration will have with non hardcore gamers, Thompson said it will also enable a lot of casual and social games.
“Social gaming through properties like Facebook is the single biggest growth opportunity right now,” Thompson said. “It’s all based on social and introducing the notion of gaming with virtual currency–we’ll tie that right in the phone you’ll be able to use the phone to carry forward your online persona.”
Thompson said the devices will offer a good array of hardware choices for consumers and will have a “revolutionary” touch screen, a leap ahead of competing devices. He said Microsoft is working to streamline the process of getting applications into the upcoming Windows Phone Marketplace. There’s no word on when the store will open but Thompson said there are already “thousands” of apps ready to go when the store opens in “weeks, not months.”
Microsoft has its work cut out for it with Windows Phone 7. The Windows Mobile global market share has fallen to 5 percent in the second quarter, according to Gartner, well behind Symbian (41.2 percent), RIM (s rimm) (18.2 percent), Android (s goog) (17.2 percent) and Apple (s aapl) (14.2 percent).
Developers are also flocking to the opportunities in iOS and Android. According to a recent developer survey by Appcelerator and IDC, 27 percent of developers were interested in developing for Windows Phone 7, trailing behind the iPhone (91 percent), iPad (84 percent), Android phones (82 percent), Android tablets (62 percent) and BlackBerry devices (34 percent).