Microsoft on Thursday began offering tools enabling Visual Basic developers to build applications for the Windows Phone 7 mobile phone platform.

Developers can download Microsoft Visual Basic CTP (Community Technology Preview) for Windows Phone Developer Tools at Microsoft's website, said S. Somasegar, senior vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division, in a blog post.  He called the CTP "a great milestone."

"Many of you have asked if Visual Basic can be used to write Windows Phone applications," Somasegar said. "As of today, the answer is yes"

Included in the CTP are Visual Studio 2010 project templates, item, designer support, emulator support, debugging, and IntelliSense for Visual Basic.

"Applications built using the CTP run on both the emulator and the phone. To try the CTP, you'll need the final version of Windows Phone Developer Tools and Visual Studio 2010 Professional or higher," Somasegar said. "If you don't have Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional, you can install the free trial of Visual Studio Professional."

Microsoft Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's next-generation phone software platform, was introduced in February.