Microsoft has released its Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 that supports 256MB devices, and to run on the Windows 8 preview that has been released to the public. Developers can choose which target they want to debug with: actual handset, Phone emulator in 256MB or 512MB. Some apps are more sensitive to memory than others, but it is clear that developers will do everything they can to fit within the allocated space.
For Windows 8 users, this is the first time that the Windows Phone emulator works on this platform. Although Microsoft warns that emulation performance may not be optimal, developers wanting to run on Windows 8 are probable more preoccupied by architecting their apps to build properly on both Windows Phone and Windows 8 than they are about actual performance.
The 256MB devices are a big deal for Microsoft in terms of potential volumes, and that’s why it should also be very important for developers. 256MB allows handset makers to build cheaper phones that should attract higher volumes, especially in developing markets. Also, Windows Phone provides a great user experience for low-powered hardware as its user-interface can keep running at 60fps as seen on the new Nokia Lumia 610. Now it remains to be seen if Microsoft and its partners can transform potential into market-share, and for that, good apps are required. [Windows Phone blog]