Microsoft refreshes Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Beta 2

A month after issuing its Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Beta 2, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is refreshing the toolkit, giving developers everything they need to finalize their apps to run on the forthcoming Mango OS. The refreshed Beta 2 locks down all application platform APIs, bolsters the emulator with built-in screenshot capabilities, improves the profiler, supports NuGet installation and offers a sneak peek at the new Marketplace Test Kit, enabling developers to test XAP files against the same certification testing tools Microsoft employs in the process of ingesting Windows Phone Marketplace apps.

Last week, Microsoft launched the release to manufacturing build of Windows Phone 7.1, enabling carrier and OEM partners to optimize the code according to their specific network and device configurations. Microsoft adds that Windows Phone 7.1 developers may now receive Build 7712. "For the folks wondering why we're not providing the ‘RTM' version, there are two main reasons," explains Windows Phone 7 senior product manager Cliff Simpkins. "First, the phone OS and the tools are two equal parts of the developer toolkit that correspond to one another. When we took this snapshot for the refresh, we took the latest [release candidate] drops of the tools and the corresponding OS version. Second, what we are providing is a genuine release candidate build, with enough code checked in and APIs locked down that this OS is close enough to RTM that, as a developer, it's more than capable to see you through the upcoming RC drop of the tools and app submission."

Microsoft will begin accepting Windows Phone 7.1 application submissions later this month. The refreshed Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Beta 2 follows the rollout of a new App Hub developer portal that includes a streamlined submission process that eliminates the requirement to upload artwork files on a one-by-one basis--developers may now select a bulk upload option to enter multiple files in one fell swoop. App Hub will automatically identify the image sizes of all art submissions and insert them in the correct artwork locations; developers may then edit or delete images before final app submission.

The revamped App Hub also introduces three new top-level app categories--Education, Kids & Family, and Government & Politics--as well as a number of new subcategories. Developers may now select categories and subcategories for all languages during the submission process. App Hub also touts new application management tools enabling developers to edit app metadata without submitting their work for re-certification, an enhanced dashboard supplying single-location access to performance, payout, distribution reporting and ratings data, more detailed reporting and a new Crash Count report to simplify the debugging process.

For more:
- read this Windows Phone Developer Blog entry

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