Software may be developed by third parties for the Windows Mobile operating system. Developers have several options for deploying mobile applications. These include writing native code with Visual C++, managed code that works with the .NET Compact Framework, writing code in Tcl-Tk with eTcl, GCC using CeGCC, Python using PythonCE or server-side code that can be deployed using Internet Explorer Mobile or a mobile client on a user's device. The .NET Compact Framework is a subset of the .NET Framework and hence shares many components with software development on desktop clients, application servers, and web servers which have the .NET Framework installed, thus integrating networked computing space.
To aid developers Microsoft released software development kits (SDKs) that work in conjunction with their Visual Studio development environment. These SDKs include emulator images for developers to test and debug their applications while writing them. Software can be tested on a client machine directly or be downloaded to a device. Microsoft also distributes Visual Studio 2008 / 2005 Professional Editions, and server / database counterparts to students as downloads free of charge via its DreamSpark program. Third party integrated development environments can also be used to write software such as Lazarus, Resco MobileForms Toolkit, Lexico, NS Basic and Basic4ppc. Some third party development environments allow coding to be done on the device itself without the need for a computer.
Developer communities have used the SDK to port later versions of Windows Mobile OS to older devices and making the OS images available for free, thus providing the devices with the current feature set. Microsoft has tolerated this procedure for some time but decided in February 2007 to ask developers to take their OS images off the net, which in turn raised discussions. At the same time Microsoft offered upgrades to Windows Mobile 6 versions to manufacturers for free.
Windows Mobile applications are strongly encouraged to be optimized for touch screen user interfaces. The developer also needs to take into the account the lower CPU performance of older devices.
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