Windows Phone 8 gets boost from cross-platform development tools

Companies like Sencha and Xamarin will allow developers to write apps for Windows Phone 8 and other operating systems at the same time

Cross-platform development frameworks such as Apache Cordova, Sencha Touch and Xamarin.Mobile are all compatible with Windows Phone 8, making it easier to create apps for the new OS while at the same time developing apps for other platforms.

This is the first time so many open-source and cross-platform frameworks are on board with Windows Phone on the first day of a new SDK version release, according to a blog posted by Olivier Bloch, technical evangelist at Microsoft.

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Today, Apple's iOS the first choice for developers, followed by apps for smartphones based on Android. Anything that can be done to lower the bar for developers to also include Windows Phone 8 is a boost for the new operating system.

Cross-platform tools can do that by allowing developers to write code for multiple operating systems at the same time.

For example, when accessing the camera, developers can code to a single Xamarin.Mobile API (application programming interface) that will work for iOS, Android, and Windows platforms instead of writing platform-specific code for each operating system.

On Tuesday, at Microsoft's Build developer conference, Xamarin launched a new version of Mobile which is compatible with Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8, as well as the latest versions of iOS and Android.

Windows Phone 8 will soon also be part of Apache Cordova and Sencha Touch. Users of the latter are bullish about Microsoft's new OS -- nearly 50 percent said they are planning to build apps for Windows Phone 8-based devices in the next six to 12 months, according to a Sencha blog post.

On Tuesday, Tony Garcia, Unity Technologies executive vice president of business development, took to the stage at the Build conference to show his company's commitment to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 and developers that want to create games for them.

The company is currently deep into development of the Windows Phone 8 deployment add-on, it said, but didn't detail when it would become generally available.

Game engine Cocos2D, 3D engine Ogre3D, cross-platform development tool Trigger.io and SharpDX, which is used to develop high performance game, 2D and 3D graphics, will also support Windows Phone 8.

These announcements are just the beginning, and Microsoft wants to continue to help open-source developers enable their frameworks on Windows Phone 8, according to Bloch's blog post.

Windows Phone 8 was officially announced on Monday, and the first phones based on the OS will go on sale this week. The line-up of new smartphones include Nokia Lumia 920 and 820; the Samsung Ativ S; and HTC's Windows Phone 8X and 8S.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com.

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