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Windows Phone 7 Preview Phones Coming July 19

Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 in February, and set a release for 'the holidays.' We've since learned that the first WP7 handsets could hit sometime in the fall, possibly September. With so long to go until we see devices running the software on the market, Microsoft is keeping things moving with the release of Windows Phone Developer Tools Beta.

Microsoft's Brandon Watson details that the WP7 team have really been 'crushing it' when it comes to deadlines and says that while the Windows Phone Developer Tool CTP has been widely embraced by the community, it's "time to get serious about building the actual apps and games for Windows Phone 7 that consumers will be looking for starting this holiday season."

The release notes for WP7 Developer Tools Beta are long, much too long to post here, but Watson does highlight some of the top level items devs can expect from this release:

  • Microsoft Expression Blend for Windows Phone – Blend is now integrated completely into the Windows Phone Developer Tools Beta.
  • Developer Registration Utility – Now you can unlock you Windows Phone 7 device for development purposes.
  • XAP Deployment Tool – if you want to deploy XAP files directly to an unlocked device, now you can.
  • The Windows Phone 7 API – we’re getting close to completion.  Many namespaces that were previously distributed over several different DLLs have now been consolidated into one.  In addition, there have been realignments and changes in several other namespaces as well.  Push Notifications, Accelerometer and App Bar APIs have all been updated.
  • Additional Controls – There are some additional controls coming in the next few weeks (i.e. Panorama and Pivot) which didn’t make the beta release.  They are coming soon.
  • Control Templates – Silverlight for Windows Phone control templates have been updated to match evolutions in the overall OS.

Microsoft is holding virtual live classes for developers interested in making applications and games for Windows Phone 7. The 3-hour classes are intended to educate devs and give them a jump-start in developing apps. Dates for the course can be found here.

So, you want to develop apps for WP7. You'll probably need a WP7 device then, won't you? Microsoft says it'll start shipping pre-production preview devices to developers next Monday, July 19. In anticipation of demand, MS says it plans to set up deploy and test labs in major cities to make it a little easier for everyone who wants to have access to a preview phone to have it.

To read the full post and register your interest, click here.