I’ve been investigating the development of apps for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 OS smartphone, and it’s been a dizzy adventure in cyberland. There seems to be lots of bits and pieces of information available on the web, ranging from tutorials, Microsoft training videos, and forum postings. From what I can tell, the Phone 7 OS is a fresh, new start for Microsoft serving as a reboot from their previous (and tired) Windows Mobile 6 OS. I do like the appearance and apparent operation, however, it does have one glaring flaw: No local database storage.
If you look at the Android OS, Palm WebOS, and iOS (iPhone), they all have SQLite available their SQL database storage system. This is a good thing, since SQL is a standard database system that allows for sorting, ordering, etc. of huge amounts of data. The Windows Phone 7 OS, doesn’t have SQLite nor any kind of advanced database system built-in. In several forums, Microsoft MVPs simply shrug this issue off and say, “… just store your data in an XML/CSV file for local storage”, or, “… put your data in the Cloud for storage”. Storing data in the cloud is completely impractical in my opinion, since you would always need an Internet connection to access your data. Thus, local storage is a must and keeping your data in an XML or CSV file is not very efficient for medium to large amounts of data. Also, it’s a real pain to write code to deal with such formatted files.
To me, this is a real blunder right out of the gate that Microsoft needs to fix fast if they want developers to port their existing Android/WebOS/iPhone apps to the Windows Phone 7 platform. Sure, you might be able to use a 3rd-party or open-source C# coding that emulates the SQL database system, but you’ll be reliant on this 3rd-party coding to work and be optimized for robustness. I personally wouldn’t want to be in that position as a developer, as you’re putting too much trust in a 3rd-party add-on from a company that isn’t all that vested in your app to succeed and work properly. This is something that Microsoft needs to fix and quickly, otherwise you’ll see a very limited number of apps appearing after their initial launch.