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Microsoft is again reaching out to iPhone application developers, this time trying to siphon off some of the Jobisian magic juice for Windows Phone 7.

The company has released an API mapping tool that it has promised will help developers to code their exiting iPhone applications to work on Windows Phone 7.

"iPhone developers can grab their apps, pick out the iOS API calls, and quickly look up the equivalent classes, methods and notification events in WP7," Microsoft senior technical evangelist for interoperability Jean-Christophe Cimetiere blogged. "A developer can search a given iOS API call and find the equivalent WP7 along with C# sample codes and API documentations for both platforms."

Not all APIs are mapped. You only get Network and Internet, User Interface, and Data Management – what Microsoft called "three popular categories."

According to Cimetiere: "For this first round we focused on identifying the one-to-one mapping when it exists. In the following versions we'll expand the scope and anytime the concepts are similar enough, we'll do our best to provide the appropriate guidance."

Similar guidance is also planned for Android, he promised.

This is Microsoft's second attempt to lure iPhone application developers in nearly two years. Microsoft published technical information on how to convert an iPhone app to Windows Phone 6.5 in August 2009 and flagged up the story of how Gripwire.com, ported Amplitude to an early release of Windows Mobile 6.5 on an HTC Touch Pro phone.

Microsoft is hoping the success of the iPhone and Apple's App Store will pay off for Windows Mobile by having existing apps port to Windows Phone. Cimetiere's blog talks of the benefits to coders of working with different languages and having applications run on more than one platform. Microsoft claims 9,000 apps for Windows Phone 7 compared to 350,000 in the App Store.

Two years into Microsoft's rebooted mobile effort, however, Microsoft has still got a long way to go to convince Apple and even Android fabois to spend some time on Windows.

A survey of 2,760 developers using Appcelerator's Titanium cross-platform environment – which is used on the iPhone – has found that Microsoft remains a minor option for coders. Twenty nine per cent said in an Appcelerator and IDC survey they are "very interested" in developing for Windows Phone 7, the current successor to Windows Mobile 6.5. A massive 91 and 86 per cent favor iOS for the iPhone and iPad respectively, while 85 and 71 per cent are very interested in Android on the phone and tablet.

One of the biggest reasons developers aren't picking Windows Phone 7 is because coders reckon they've already got their hands plenty full building for iOS or Android.

You can read more about the Appcelerator survey here and here. ®

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