Microsoft is making available a toolkit designed to help developers writing Windows Phone 7 applications that make use of Windows Azure cloud services.
The new Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone 7 is downloadable from the Microsoft Codeplex site, as of this month. (Release date was March 8, but the announcement date was today, March 23.)
The toolkit includes Visual Studio project templates for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure, class libraries optimized for use on the phone, sample applications, and documentation. Prerequisites for using the toolkit include Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional (or higher) --or both Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2010 Express and Microsoft Visual Studio2010 Express for Windows Phone; Windows Phone Developer Tools; Internet Information Services 7 (IIS7); and Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (November Release).
There are plans for additional drops of the toolkit that will add new capabilities and functionality, including Notification services for Windows Phone 7 (and other devices) that run in Windows Azure; support for the Windows Azure Marketplace (codenamed Dallas); multiple NuGet packages and more.
This is neither the first Windows Phone 7 toolkit nor the first Windows Azure tookit from Microsoft. In January 2011, Microsoft Research made available for download a developer preview of its Windows Phone 7 + Cloud Services Software Development Kit (SDK). Last year, the Redmondians delivered a Windows Azure Toolkit for Facebook, which was designed to streamline development of Facebook (and other) applications that connect to Windows Azure Table Storage and SQL Server.
Yahoo made use of Windows Azure to develop its Flickr WP7 application, by the way.