OGRE now supports Windows Phone 8!

As many of you will know, Microsoft just released their SDK for its new mobile OS named Windows Phone 8” (WP8) at the Build developer conference into the wild today and we are happy and proud to announce that OGRE supports it from day one!

Microsoft provided us early access to the Windows Phone 8 SDK which they made publicity available for developer everywhere today. More than that, they even took care of a major part of the porting work themselves and contributed the code changes to us via Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.
Many thanks for the support!

Since the Windows Phone 8 SDK supports creating projects in C++ (unlike Windows Phone 7) OGRE can be compiled for it with minimal effort. Another reason for the easy adoption was that OGRE 1.9 already supported WinRT, DirectX 11 and loading binary versions of shaders before the guys at Microsoft and Nokia started their porting work. Additionally, the API Microsoft now provides for WP8 is very similar to Windows 8 WinRT API – meaning the port was more or less only a few lines of code to be changed in OGRE.

Bottom-line is that OGRE projects can easily be compiled to run on Windows desktops, tablets and phones using the same code base with just minor modifications.

More than that – the Windows Phone 8 SDK has a great emulator which comes with a free dedicated version of one of our favorite IDEs – Visual Studio 2012 – meaning that if you are accustomed to develop using Microsoft tools on Windows, you can do so using the tools you already know.

On the other side of the coin: The biggest limitation we faced starting to develop for Windows Phone 8 is that the SDK requires you to use a desktop version of Windows 8, and your computer needs to have a CPU that supports virtualization (meaning a CPU sold in the last three or so years). Microsoft’s price for upgrading to Windows 8 is currently really reasonable (40$) – so this shouldn’t be an issue for Windows users. We were also able to run Windows 8 with the Windows Phone 8 SDK using the free VMware player with some settings tweaking to allow the phone emulation to run on the virtual machine. So this is an interesting option for non-Windows users who want to install the SDK without changing their host OS.

Right now, we are in the last steps of completely integrating the patch Nokia and Microsoft provided us with, meaning cleaning up some things and creating the necessary CMake files / changes to use it within our existing build schemes. All of that will soon be pushed into our official OGRE repository over at BitBucket (most likely by Thursday), so stay tuned!
We are also planning to create an early OGRE 1.9 release candidate (RC1) supporting Windows Phone 8 to make it even easier for interested users to check out the new port without having to build OGRE themselves from the repositories. This will RC1 will also be released within the next few days – we will announce it separately as soon as the work is done.

Microsoft Open tech will also release additional information as well as a demo video showcasing the OGRE WP8 integration on their blog shortly. So go check it out here: http://aka.ms/l0njhq

We would also like to seize this opportunity to once again thank Microsoft and Nokia for giving us early access to their SDK and providing us with WP8 devices so we can maintain support for this new and exciting platform. It was a very intense last few days trying to get everything ready and sorted out, but also a great experience collaborating with the motivated and easy-to-work-with guys from both two companies.

We are looking forward to further joined endeavors in the future!

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