Microsoft Challenges iPhone By Highlighting Easy App Development For Windows Phone 7

Associated Press Windows Phone 7 App showed off at MIX

As Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) plays catch-up in the mobile phone space, it detailed plans for mobile applications today for Windows Phone 7 at its MIX developer conference in Las Vegas.

The big take-away message is that Microsoft is trying to make it easy, fast and cheap to make apps for the new mobile-phone platform. That will be key if Microsoft is going to be successful in luring developers away from more popular and proven platforms, like Apple’s iPhone, and increasingly, Google’s Android operating system. To show off its capabilities, Microsoft a dozen or so companies on stage to show off applications, just like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has done in the past at its events. Demonstrations were given by Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), Associated Press, Seesmic, Foursquare, Shazam and others. The big surprise is that all developer tools will be available today ahead of its Windows Phone 7 launch later this year.

To make it easy, Microsoft said apps will be built in the full version of Silverlight (not a light phone edition), and all the tools will be free. Scott Guthrie, a Microsoft corporate VP, said: “You

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