Microsoft Research delivers cloud development kit for Windows Phone 7

By Mary Jo Foley

The new SDK is related to Project Hawaii, a mobile research initiative which I’ve blogged about before. Hawaii is about using the cloud to enhance mobile devices. The “building blocks” for Hawaii applications/services include computation (Windows Azure); storage (Windows Azure); authentication (Windows Live ID); notification; client-back-up; client-code distribution and location (Orion).

The SDK is “for the creation of Windows Phone 7 (WP7) applications that leverage research services not yet available to the general public,” according to the download page.

The first two services that are part of the January 25 SDK are Relay and Rendezvous. The Relay Service is designed to enable mobile phones to communicate directly with each other, and to get around the limitation created by mobile service providers who don’t provide most mobile phones with consistent public IP addresses. The Rendezvous Service is a mapping service “from well-known human-readable names to endpoints in the Hawaii Relay Service.” These names may be used as rendezvous points that can be compiled into applications, according to the Hawaii Research page.

The Hawii team is working on other services which it is planning to release in dev-preview form by the end of February 2011. These include a Speech-to-Text service that will take an English spoken phrase and return it as text, as well as an “OCR in the cloud” service that will allow testers to take a photographic image that contains some text and return the text. “For example, given a JPEG image of a road sign, the service would return the text of the sign as a Unicode string,” the researchers explain.

Microsoft officials said earlier this week that the company sold last quarter 2 million Windows Phone 7 operating system licenses to OEMs for them to put on phones and provide to the carriers. (This doesn’t mean 2 million Windows Phone 7s have been sold, just to reiterate.) Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 in October in Europe. There are still no Windows Phone 7 phones available from Verizon or Sprint in the U.S. Microsoft and those carriers have said there will be CDMA Windows Phone 7s on those networks some time in 2011.