When secrecy is not a good thing: Microsoft and Windows Phone 8

Summary:Windows Phone 8 looks to be the most innovative version of the OS to date. It is uniquely poised to make a dent in both the consumer space and the enterprise. What it needs is lots of apps.

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Microsoft is restricting access to the Windows Phone SDK to keep some features secret.

Microsoft is busy getting Windows Phone 8 ready for the market. It is looking really good based on the few looks we've seen so far. What will determine how fast it gets out of the blocks when released is the apps available in the Marketplace. That's why is makes no sense for Microsoft to restrict access to the Windows Phone 8 SDK, especially for the silliest of reasons.

When I read colleague David Meyer's piece detailing how Microsoft is restricting access to the WP8 SDK to only the "developers of [the Marketplace's] most-downloaded apps" I was sure I didn't read things accurately. So I read the entire article again, only to verify that what I read was indeed what Microsoft is doing.

It seems that even though Microsoft needs developers writing apps for Windows Phone 8 more than anything else, it is only giving the SDK to those already with popular apps in the store. You read that right, only developers with top apps in the store can get access to the SDK. Others have to wait until Windows Phone 8 is officially launched.

As if that isn't silly enough, the reason for the restricted access to the SDK is downright bizarre. Microsoft wants to keep some features of Windows Phone 8 secret to build excitement for the platform. You may want to read that sentence again, I'll wait.

Microsoft needs to create as much buzz for Windows Phone 8 as possible to give it any chance to hit the ground running. It needs lots of apps in the Marketplace from day one to make that happen. Yet it has chosen to make it hard for developers to write those apps in an effort to keep features secret for launch.

This makes no sense to me on any level. You can go for secret features when you are on top of the game, but not when you're at the bottom. Microsoft should be screaming from the top of the highest hill about these cool "secret" features to get folks excited. It needs to do that now, not after it launches. And it needs lots of good apps in the store.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile OS, Smartphones


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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