Microsoft at its Mix10 conference showed off application capabilities for its Windows Phone 7 Series platform and offered a release candidate for its upcoming Silverlight 4 rich Internet application plug-in technology.

Windows Phone 7 Series leverages Silverlight and the XNA gaming platform for application development. Visual Studio and Microsoft Expression Blend are positioned, respectively, as development and design tools for the phone OS, which features graphical capabilities akin to the Apple iPhone.

"I'm pleased to announce that the Windows Phone 7 developer tools are now available for anyone to download on the web," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president for the .Net developer platform at Microsoft.

Available at Microsoft's Windows Phone web page, tools are being offered as a preview and include Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Windows 7 Series Add-in for Visual Studio, Windows Phone 7 Series emulator and XNA Game Studio 4.0. Microsoft is making available a community technology preview of Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone at the same website. The tool provides a streamlined development workflow for the phone.

The morning presentation at the conference featured demonstrations of a variety of graphical applications for Windows Phone, including push notifications for the phone and an application from Seesmic that unites social networks, such as Facebook, on the phone via plugins.

"What's great for us here is that the code that we use here [on the phone], the majority is the same as for Windows desktop," said Loic Le Muir, Seesmic founder.

Windows Phone can incorporate web applications and data onto a phone, said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone at Microsoft. He showed applications including a phone-based diary that can include both text and photos on a Windows Phone device.

Also, the phone features squares, or tiles, to customise the phone experience. Tiles can take care of such tasks as listing contacts or messages.

The company also said developers will be able to bring applications and games to market via Windows Phone Marketplace. Among the companies building applications for Windows Phone 7 Series are Associated Price, Citrix Systems, and others.

Silverlight 4, which is to be generally available next month, offers capabilities such as microphone and multi-screen support as well as offline digital rights management. Also, a pivot capability, for visualising large sets of data, will be available as a control for embedding in Silverlight 4 applications. The release candidate is available on the Silverlight web page.

Multi-screen capabilities make Silverlight 4 "the first and only web technology that allows you do that," Guthrie said. "Silverlight delivers the highest-quality video on the web," he added.

Mix10 will feature details on the planned Internet Explorer 9 browser, ASP.Net and services-based web development.