Microsoft announced today that the latest version of its Windows Phone SDK, 7.1.1, is now available. This is the version that can target "Tango" class devices (as well as all Windows Phone handsets to date). Will this be the final major release of Microsoft's Silverlight-based Windows Phone development tools?

"The Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 Update is now available for your download," Microsoft's Cliff Simpkins writes in the Windows Phone Blog. "It enables Windows Phone developers to develop apps that work well on the new 256 MB devices, and to develop on machines running Windows 8."

The 7.1.1 update is what it sounds like, an update to the previous version of the Windows Phone SDK, version 7.1. Where the previous version added support for Windows Phone 7.5 ("Mango") devices, Microsoft says that 7.1.1 adds...

  • Support for several emulator types through the Visual Studio IDE (though only one can run at a time).
  • The Windows Phone [512 MB device] emulator image is updated to use build 8773.
  • A second, new emulator device image is included, allowing you to emulate running your app on a 256 MB device.
  • The Microsoft Advertising SDK is updated to the latest version (previously only available as a separate install), which fixes some issues devs were encountering at runtime.
  • IntelliSense now supports specifying the 512 MB device requirement in your manifest file, should you choose to opt your app out from running on the new 256 MB devices.
  • Language support is again consistent both in the IDE (the 7.1.1 Update supports all 10 of the WPSDK 7.1 languages) and in the emulator OS (Malay and Indonesian have been added).

If you previously installed the CTP version of the 7.1.1 SDK, you can install the final version on top of that, with no need to first uninstall the previous build.

The Windows Phone 7.1 SDK and 7.1.1 SDK CTP had issues with the Windows Phone emulator not working on Windows 8. That's been fixed in this version, though Microsoft says this configuration isn't officially supported until Windows 8 ships. I'm interested to see that those running Windows 8 with Hyper-V could experience some emulator performance issues. How could Windows Phone development and Hyper-V be connected, I wonder?

The big deal with the 7.1.1 SDK, of course, is its support for new 256 MB ("Tango") devices. Microsoft recommends the following blog posts to get up to date with the issues related to these new handsets:

Mike Battista’s Optimizing Apps for Lower Cost Devices blog post

Nokia Dev Wiki’s Best Practice Tips for Delivering Apps to 256 MB Devices article

Inside Windows Phone episode on building for the Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh 

Have fun! My guess is that this will be the final major release of the Silverlight-based Windows Phone development tools. With Windows Phone 8, development will be shifting to Windows 8-style WinRT development.