According to Microsoft, the developer tools may now be downloaded in their final form from the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 developer Web site. Right now, only English is supported, but Microsoft will have French, Italian, German and Spanish available soon.
Microsoft has juiced up the dev tools with a few new features. It says that a Bing Maps control function was added, for example. This will let developers build applications that have full access to Bing Maps and its features and functions, including the ability to search, get directions, access street views and so on.
Microsoft also added the ability to control the Pivot function within Windows Phone 7. Windows Phone 7 devices will offer Pivot to end users to interact with their data. Microsoft calls Pivot a helpful tool for dealing with data-intensive applications.
Developers will be able to submit their applications -- which must be re-compiled with the latest set of tools -- starting in early October. Microsoft believes most applications will be approved or rejected within five days, and developers can check the status of their application via the developer portal.
Microsoft hasn't said when the Marketplace for Mobile and Windows Phone 7 will actually launch, but the timing is pointing once again to the October 11 date.
Applications will be a key factor in Windows Phone 7's success or failure. One of the reasons the iPhone and Android platforms have been so successful is because they both have rich application markets. Palm's webOS and RIM's BlackBerry platforms have far fewer applications available to them, and this could, in part, have played some small role in those platforms' recent slump.