iPhone-to-Windows-Phone 'Translation Dictionary' Out

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 (WP7) has been both touted and trivialized by pundits, developers, and users.

Among the major criticisms of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) play to remain relevant in a world going increasingly wireless is a shortage of apps for WP7, which would help to make the OS a contender in a hard fought, multi-horse race.

In order to increase Microsoft's chances, the company has now come out with the first iteration of what it refers to as a "translation dictionary" to help iOS developers negotiate differences between the two operating systems, their application programming interfaces (API), and their development tools.

Microsoft sees one way to increase the number of apps available for its platform is to aid iOS developers in porting or at least rewriting their apps to work on WP7.

Dubbed "the iPhone/iOS to Windows Phone 7 API mapping tool," the dictionary is aimed at providing information to help developers translate techniques, languages, and API calls from the programming models they're familiar with to those in Microsoft's fledgling environment.

"If you are a .NET developer, learning Windows Phone development is not really 'change.' ... [but] more of a continuum, where you just add new features to what you already know," Jean-Christophe Cimetiere, a Microsoft senior technical evangelist for Interoperability, said in a post to the Windows Phone Developer Blog.

However, that is a bigger challenge for iOS developers who might be tempted to write WP7 versions of their apps.

"With this tool, iPhone developers can grab their apps, pick out the iOS API calls, and quickly look up the equivalent classes, methods and notification events in WP7. A developer can search a given iOS API call and find the equivalent WP7 along with C# sample codes and API documentations for both platforms," Cimetiere added.

The first draft of the tool maps network and Internet categories as well as user interface, and data management technologies. Other areas, including audio and video, graphics and animation, performance, and security, will be added later.

"For this first round we focused on identifying the one-to-one mapping when it exists. In the following versions we'll expand the scope and anytime the concepts are similar enough, we'll do our best to provide the appropriate guidance," the post said.

Besides the mapping tool, Microsoft is also distributing a more than 90-page whitepaper entitled the "Windows Phone 7 Guide for iPhone Application Developers."

Similar tools for Google Android developers who may want to write WP7 apps are also in the works, Cimetiere added.

Microsoft's development tools for WP7 have proven fairly popular with WP7 developers.

The company claimed at the end of March that its two primary free WP7 developer tools -- Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone and Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone -- had been downloaded more than 1.5 million times.

Additionally, some 36,000 developers have paid to be members of the WP7 app developer program.

Despite those numbers, Apple still boasts more than 350,000 apps available on its App Store -- a sharp contrast to the 15,000 or so that Microsoft's marketplace can muster.

The mapping tool and whitepaper are InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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