Devs getting lots of love today: Azure, Mango, Windows Live announcements

A trio of announcements for developers (and developer wannabes) today coming from various parts of Microsoft, all intending to make it easier to write and deploy your apps.  We’ll start with Windows Live, because, well, we’re LiveSide!

Dare Obasanjo posted today on some new ways to make it easier for mobile devs (using the iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone platforms or more) to “easily integrate the ability for users to access their information such as contacts and photos from Hotmail, Messenger, and SkyDrive in their favorite mobile apps and devices”.

Dare and the team have been pretty much completely revamping the Windows Live Developer platform, and the new systems for managing applications (at http://manage.dev.live.com) is easier than it’s ever been.  Creating an application, which can then access SkyDrive, Hotmail, and Messenger information, only requires a developer to provide an application name and its language (English, etc.):

manage-dev_thumb Developer Mobile

Since mobile apps often may not have a website to redirect back to once the OAuth 2.0 authorization is complete (getting user permission to access Hotmail, SkyDrive and/or Messenger information), this step is now optional.

A sample SkyDrive code snippet is available to get you started, and Dare and the team are promising more code samples to come, stay tuned!

Next up is Azure, which announced today at Seattle Casual Connect the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games.  From the Windows Azure Team blog post announcing the toolkit:

This toolkit includes accelerators, common libraries, and deployment tools to help developers quickly get started building social games. Additionally, the toolkit provides samples and guidance for other scenarios, such as using Facebook credits to monetize a game.

The Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games also comes with a new proof-of-concept game call Tankster from industry innovator Grant Skinner and his team at gskinner.com. This game is built with HTML5 and comes complete with reusable server side code and documentation.

And finally, the Windows Phone Developers App Hub has been updated, with new features, “multiple enhancements”, and support for several new markets.  Developers can now register in App Hub and submit apps from Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, South Africa, and South Korea, with China being added in early fall, 2011 (just a few months away).  In addition, 19 new consumer markets have been added to the 16 already supported markets.

Also included in the App Hub refresh are some new distribution models: Beta Distribution (you can test your mobile app with up to 100 beta testers for 90 days before publishing your app to the Marketplace), and Targeted Distribution, where your app does not appear in the Marketplace and is only accessible via a deep link.

Many more enhancements have been added as well, including an enhanced developer dashboard, a new “crash count” report, a streamlined app submission process, and new app categories.  In addition, the blog post announces that once the Windows Phone Release Candidate tools are made available in August, developers will be able to start submitting their Mango apps.

Good news all around for developers!