Windows Phone 7: Looking Good, Very Good

At today’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft announced the next version of their smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 7. Based on the demo at that site, I must say, nice job, Microsoft. While Microsoft has recently taken some heat for no longer being innovative, this release is certainly a big step forward for the company, making us forget about the somewhat lackluster 6.5 release. That release was clearly grounded in the pre-smartphone, Pocket PC era where Microsoft was actually a big player. However, it didn’t even come close to competing with the iPhone or even Android based phones in the consumer market.

All this is going to change with the new release, though, I hope. The new 7 series user interface is based on the Zune’s, which means it is much better suited for touch and it looks just gorgeous. I have been playing around with an iPod touch for the past week (more on that in a later article) and the Zune is just orders of magnitude more stylish. It feels weird saying that, but in this case it’s true: Apple should actually look to Microsoft for better looking GUIs. The iPhone and iPod GUIs are so 2007.

Anyway, that’s just my first impression based on the demos and videos Microsoft released. I can’t wait to get my hands on an actual device. Apparently, they are aiming for a late 2010 release. Until then, you can get more info by registering for backstage access at the Windows Phone 7 site. Apparently this means, you can watch “exclusive behind the scenes videos” and also get a chance to win some prizes. Maybe a Windows Phone? Probably not.

Happy 15th Birthday, Delphi!

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of Borland Delphi, which took place on 14 February 1995 at the Software Development Conference. Back in my high school years, Borland’s Turbo Pascal was the first programming language I learned, so it was no big leap to use Delphi for my personal projects in later years. Coming from a Pascal background, the learning curve was not very steep, so I could leverage my existing skills very well to eventually make a career out of it. To this day, I do most of my-to-day development in this language and while I am not religious about the programming languages I use, given the fact that some 90% of my programming experience has been with Delphi, this language has a special place in my heart.

Let me therefore take this opportunity to congratulate the Delphi team on continuing to evolve and improve this fine programming language. Thanks for 15 great years – of which I have actively used Delphi for about eight – and let’s hope for many more to come.

If you are interested in the history of Delphi (or Turbo Pascal), check out the Museum section on Embarcadero’s developer site. Over the past weeks, Chris Hesik of the Delphi team has also been posting design documents from the early days of Delphi to his blog. For Delphi’s 10th birthday, Marco Cantu had compiled pictures from the Delphi launch event in 1995.

Upcoming Series of Delphi Techniques and Tips

Even though Delphi has traditionally been used for database and GUI programming, most of my projects now are server applications that process data of some kind, often highly optimized for maximum data throughput. I have collected some material on techniques to use Delphi for such high performance data applications. Originally, I had meant to submit this as an article to the Embarcadero Developer Network. However, since I haven’t found the time to write it up in one coherent, insightful piece, I might use this blog to post it in parts, maybe one article now and then about some techniques or other tips that I have found useful in my development work. So stay tuned.