Jake Levant

Sorry, Windows Phone 7 app makers: the camera's off-limits

October 22, 2010: 10:44 AM ET

As developers decide whether and how to support Microsoft's nascent mobile OS, some have found that creating augmented reality and video chat apps isn't possible, at least for now.

For Microsoft (MSFT), Windows Phone 7 represents an attempt at righting its serious fumbles in the mobile space. In recent years, as Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) introduced and aggressively updated iOS and Android, Microsoft's mobile OS fell further and further behind, a reality even CEO Steve Ballmer recently admitted to the press. Now 18 months after development started, Microsoft will spend an estimated $400 million at launch to market its new operating system, Windows Phone 7 [WP7], and get the message out that it's learned from its mistakes.

Because Microsoft trashed the old system, the WP7 code base is entirely new. That means apps developed for the old Windows Mobile are not compatible. That's a good thing, offering app makers a fresh start at innovating on the phone, unshackled from legacy code. As of launch, there are a reported 1,000 WP7 apps available, compared to iOS's 300,000. While Apple's app ecosystem didn't grow overnight, WP7 has some catching up to do before it can be fairly compared feature-for-feature and app-for-app with the competition.

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