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Visual Basic Developers Can Now Build for Windows Phone 7

Today Microsoft announced that developers interested in building applications for Windows Phone 7 can now use Visual Basic to do so, in addition to the previously supported platforms of C#, Silverlight and XNA. This, says Microsoft’s Brandon Watson via an official blog post, was the biggest request from the company’s developer community to date.

Interested developers can now download the Visual Basic CTP (Community Test Build) for Windows Phone Developer Tools package which includes templates, designer support, emulator and phone support and IntelliSense for Visual Basic, an auto-completion tool used in coding.

Microsoft warns that the current support is not a final implementation, but has been offered to provide developers early access in order to solicit feedback. The toolset does not include a “Go-Live” license, either, meaning developers cannot release their VB-built apps with this version of the technology.

Developers also can’t use the CTP to build XNA games, but can use it for Silverlight apps.

For Microsoft’s developer community, this is big news. Previously the company had touted how “every .NET developer just became a Windows Phone developer” with Windows Phone 7 and how Silverlight and XNA developers would be “really happy” with the platform. However, Visual Basic support, which was non-existent until now, remained a top request.

As for Windows Phone 7 itself, our own Frederic Lardinois recently had some hands-on time with it and is excited about its potential. “After playing with the phone for a while, it is hard not come away impressed,” he said. “The interface is a nice departure from the standard smartphone UI we have become used to, with a lot of refinements a lot of us don’t usually expect to see out of Microsoft.”

Of course no one is calling Windows Phone 7 a slam dunk for Microsoft just yet, not by any means. The company has struggled with its mobile strategy for years, most recently failing to launch its Kin devices, a tween-and-teen-targeted device lineup that included an automatic, cloud-based backup system. With Kin, though, Microsoft didn’t get the pricing right, which limited the devices’ appeal to the younger demographic. Windows Phone 7, however, represents a larger effort from the company to get its mobile house in order. This most recent move involving VB support indicates that Microsoft wants to get all its developers on board with the new platform and is listening and responding to their requests.

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