How one dev used 90% of his Windows Phone code to port a game to Windows 8

We’ve been hearing for some time that Microsoft is aiming to make developing apps across Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 dead simple, but it’s another thing entirely to see that in action.

Rick Walrond, developer of the Windows Phone word game AlphaDrops, reports that he was able to use 90 percent of his original code when porting the game over to Windows 8. You can take a look at the port in action below.

Walrond says that he managed to complete the port in just two weeks, though for now it only supports the single player mode of AlphaDrops. It’s a sign that other Windows Phone app developers could easily reuse their code on Windows 8, and it’s also the sort of thing that could attract more developers to Microsoft’s struggling mobile platform.

“The good news for existing Windows Phone Silverlight developers is that the underlying code is very similar,” Walrond said in an e-mail interview with VentureBeat. “I suspect that if you have an XNA game [the Windows phone development environment for more graphics intensive games] that it wouldn’t be that easy, but developers will save a lot of time when porting from Windows Phone Silverlight. I was able to wire up the Windows 8 App to the exact same web services and databases which would allow for cross-platform competition and leader boards.”

Still, the Windows 8 development process wasn’t entirely rosy for Walrond. He says that the development environment was “buggy and incomplete,” and that he was only able to implement some of the features he wanted in the app by using HTML and Javascript (which Microsoft is pushing for in Windows 8 apps).

I asked Walrond if there’s a chance Microsoft will ever consider making it easy for devs to port apps from Windows 8 back to Windows Phone.

“In terms of porting from Windows 8 to Windows Phone, things begin to get interesting,” he said. “Remember that Microsoft is pushing HTML/Javascript. I suspect that Microsoft will add this combination to Windows Phone as well and also with the introduction of Visual Studio 11, I’m hoping they will also add more of the Asynchronous programming functionality to the Windows Phone dev kit. If they do these two things, porting from Windows 8 to Windows Phone will be dead simple with the exception of user interface and resource differences. But with HTML/Javascript, porting from other platforms including the web may be just as easy”

As far as things stand today, Walrond says he’d likely be able to use a decent amount of his code if he first started building AlphaDrops on Windows 8 and then ported it to Windows Phone.

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