I signed up for my Windows Mobile Marketplace account while I was at MIX 2010. I was somewhat disappointed that after I shelled out the $99 for the first year, my Windows Phone 7 Series applications can't be uploaded until sometime in the summer of 2010. I don't have any real interest in writing Windows Mobile 6.5 applications, to be honest. I'm only concerned with writing for the Windows Phone 7 Series because:

  1. I can use Silverlight to author my applications
  2. I can also use XNA to write games
  3. The emulator experience is really rich, supporting multi-touch right through my PC's screen
  4. Debugging is rich and fully-interactive through the phone virtual machine
  5. Every Windows Phone 7 is a Zune and when people discover the hidden awesomeness of the Zune Pass, Steve Jobs will need a diaper change (I just can't wait to see that happen).

Getting started with a Windows Mobile Marketplace account is easy. Just go to Windows Phone: Developer Home and follow the links to get started. You can also download the Windows Phone SDK and tools there, too. You don't need a marketplace account to get started. The tools are free, exposed through a special build of Visual Studio 2010 Express Edition. Until the release in April 2010, everything's built on the Release Candidate (RC) so you might want to careful where you install it. If you are a Microsoft Insider, please be aware that builds you may have obtained that are newer than the RC are not compatible with this installation of the Windows Phone 7 Series tools. Another word of advice: don't install the Windows Phone developer tools in a virtual machine. Contrary to some rumors that are going around, the tools work OK in a vmware instance of Windows 7 but it's horrifically slow, even if you have hardware graphics acceleration turned on and have the latest DirectX drivers installed. This puppy wants iron for dinner so virtual machines are just not recommended.

My goal is to have 3 or 4 really cool phone applications ready for the Windows Mobile Marketplace on the day it goes live. Right now, I am working on a CommunityMegaphone application that will let you find and report community developer events using the GPS features of the device. If you have other cool ideas, especially those related to the Zune features in the phone, please let me know. I'm looking for fun stuff to build.

Oh, there's one more thing. Even though I'm a bit displeased that my Windows Mobile Marketplace account wasn't really necessary yet, I am somewhat glad that I started early. The GeoTrust verification process and the bank verification process take a while to complete. If you plan on setting up a Mobile Marketplace account, don't wait until the very last minute to do so. You may want to give yourself a week or two, at least, to get through the verification processes which aren't that simple. You have to make copies of driver's licenses, passports and such and send them to GeoTrust where they verify that you are a real person before they issue you an Authenticode certificate for signing your applications. Every application that you place in the marketplace must be signed in this way so Microsoft takes pains to make sure they can track you down in the event that something goes wrong in the future.