Microsoft annoys developers with Windows Phone 8 secrecy

Microsoft annoys developers with Windows Phone 8 secrecy

Summary: The company is accepting requests for the Windows Phone 8 software development kit (SDK), but only from a select few. The rest will have to wait, as Microsoft is trying to keep some of the OS's features secret for now.


Microsoft is preparing to release the software development kit for Windows Phone 8 — but only to a select group of developers.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Windows Marketplace chief Todd Brix said Microsoft was starting to accept requests for access to the SDK, which lets app creators tailor their products to the upcoming version of the Windows Phone OS.

Nokia Lumia 820
Microsoft is trying to keep some features of its Windows Phone 8 OS a secret, not letting people get hands-on with the new Nokia Lumia phones. Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

However, only the "developers of [the Marketplace's] most-downloaded apps" will get in early, Brix said. As for the rest, they will only get access at the launch of Windows Phone 8 because Microsoft is trying to keep some of the OS's features secret.

That apparent need for secrecy also lies behind the refusal of Nokia to let journalists get hands-on with its upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices, including the Lumia 920. I encountered this problem first hand when Nokia smartphone chief Jo Harlow showed me her 920 at a recent Qualcomm event, but refused to pass it over lest I see some of the unannounced features of the operating system.

As Brix put it in his blog post, Microsoft is trying to whip up excitement around the OS.

"We recognise that this is a different approach to delivering tools than we've taken in the past," he said. "Our goal is to generate as much Windows Phone 8 excitement as possible to attract new customers when phones go on sale. This is one of many steps we're taking to help give you what you (and we) want most."

Developer reaction

The developers who responded in the post's comments section were deeply unimpressed at what one termed Microsoft's "cruel joke".

"When your platform is so far behind, you can't turn away devs" — 'ishaih'

"If you're only going to give access to apps with lots of downloads, just contact them directly, much better than rejecting interested devs," 'ishaih' wrote. "When your platform is so far behind, you can't turn away devs."

One developer pointed out that, if some get access, the SDK will probably be leaked online anyway. Another complained that many developers will have paid to renew their MSDN licences specifically so they could get early access to the SDK and have their apps ready for the Windows Phone 8 launch.

"I can't say enough how disappointing this is," 'WinPhoneDev' wrote. "Microsoft's own experience should tell it this is a terrible idea. What happens when MS focuses on engineering and communication? Windows 7. What happens when they let marketers drive decision making? Vista."

"Oh well. Guess I'll go back to focusing on Android," WinPhoneDev added.

Topics: Windows, Apps, Microsoft, Mobility, Smartphones

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • It’s Not Secrecy, It’s Incompetence

    They only thing they’re hiding is that Windows Phone 8 simply isn’t actually working yet. It’s not that they don’t want to show it, it’s that they have nothing to show. It’s all a big smoke-and-mirrors game, to try to distract attention from Android leaping ahead of them and Apple.
    • Have you guys leaped over that frragmentation mess yet?

      I would not recommend running before being able to walk properly.
      • You really want to talk about "frragmentation"?

        OK, let's talk "frragmentation". How about a platform that requires you to write your apps in TWO different ways, using two different languages, depending on whether you're using 3D graphics or not?

        Because that's how Windows Phone 7 works. And Windows Phone 8 does the same sort of thing, only you have to write your apps in TWO MORE different ways! And you want to make a tablet app? Sorry, that has to be written in YET ANOTHER different way!

        Contrast Android, where apps are written (in your choice of languages) against ONE COMMON API offering ONE COMMON set of functionality and built with ONE COMMON set of developer tools to produce ONE COMMON package for deployment across ALL devices, from phones to tablets and everything in-between.

        Android "fragmented"? That kind of "fragmented", the other platforms can only dream of having...
        • Nice try, but your FUD could use a little improvement

          "write your apps in TWO different ways, using two different languages, ... that's how Windows Phone 7 works"

          Sorry pal, but .Net is the only framework supported in WP7, there's no language other than that used by .Net available in WP7. So there's no such thing as "using two different languages" as the alternative language to .Net simply does not exist. Your FUD failed miserably.

          Oh btw as for your "ONE COMMON" brouhaha, didn't these FOSS fools fork their own versions off left to right to mess compatibility with each other up? Take a look at what the Chinese OEMs are doing. The first thing they do is to strip Google services off, yeah baby, so much for "ONE COMMON" blah blah. The world's biggest market refuses to be "COMMON". I mean for Christ sake why do we even mention China while we just had Amazon to fork yet another branch off the Android trail of laughing stocks to create own system? That sounds very "ONE COMMON" to you I guess, huh? LOL. Gimme a break!
          • yeah

            I think you confused. WP7 uses Silverlight for app development and XNA Framework for gaming developing. There are two frameworks because they were designed specifically for these tasks. Would you use a meat chopping knife to peel an apple? Or a peeling knife to chop meat? Of course not! In the end, both of these frameworks are linked with C#.

            WP8 opens up a little more. Now, you can target the WinRTP API in programming langauge of your choosing (C#, VB, HTML/JavaScript, C++, and XAML).

            Really, WP7 has two frameworks and one common programming langauge. WP8 has really one API but four programming langauges. This makes it way more flexible than Android.
          • Android isn't a desktop or server OS

            So they shouldn't even be allowed to comment on it.

            I can hear the Linux guys in the background saying "BUT WHAT ABOUT LINUX?" "We're FREEEEEEEEE".
          • Windows Phone Fragmentation

            To start with, Windows Phone doesn't actually use the Dotnet framework, but Silverlight, which is a cut-down version of Dotnet. Not only is it an old version of Silverlight, but Silverlight is now officially a dead-end technology anyway.

            And anything using 3D graphics requires you to use XNA, which requires you to use the C++ programming language, which you can't use with Dotnet, which requires you to program in C# instead--

            Is any of this making sense to you? You don't actually understand any of this softwarey-Corey-programmy stuff, do you?
          • XNA requires C++?

            Who said that?
        • Are you a developer?

          Because you haven't a clue what fragmentation means. Fragmentation is typically referred to diversity among target devices or platforms, not development tools. Think about it this way, if you are a mechanic and have fifty variations of wrench that you can choose from to turn a nut, that's not fragmentation because any one of them will work (though some of them may be better suited to the particular application). If, on the other hand, you have different nuts on every single car, each requiring you to use a different wrench, THAT'S fragmentation.

          The difference is in the first case you have a choice based on what you prefer, the second you are forced to spend time and money in order to support each of the variations.
          • I Am A Developer...

            I am glad i dont have the stress of a Microsoft developer right now. I am sure there must be stress now, already heard nobody is allowed vacation right now, thats not quit normal if everything is running on time. Normally if you dont deliver, no problem, next month is soon enough, but if they dont deliver now Nokia is down the drain. Nokia cant complain because their Phones and the WP OS is developed together with Microsoft. The Nokia Hardware in this case goes hand by hand with the OS Software. HTC has trouble testing, but nobody cares at MS, first bigger problems to solve. You dont think its easy to bring Bluetooth/Nfc gadgets together on the market? It has to work right from the box, so lots of device drivers etc to be developed and tested. Hell of a Job. And this time its not a matter of Money, you need your best developers for this task, not young boys right from school, better take the old guys with experience, may be some Old guys already pensioners haha, the old guys know how to Debug :-) So I think they have working hours of maybe 80 hours a week, that means lots of pizza's. Anyway I like Visual Studio a lot. By far the best development software ever made. No other Company comes even near. So when they deliver I will jump on that train :-)
            Herman Van Der Blom
        • Oh really?

          is that they can't even get their OS together with any consistency. Each MFG does their little thing with what Google releases. Why do you think it takes forever for Android to catch up with adopting the latest OS? My friend bought a Samsuck Galaxy S III and she's having LOTS of problems with product that HOPEFULLY that 4.1 will solve. But has Samsuck released it yet? NO. Google released it to Samsuck, but Samsuck hasn't released it to their users? So it takes at LEAST 2 to 4 MONTHS before the mfg will release THEIR versions and there is NO guarantee that they will update every product. How many Gingerbread phones are STILL being sold that won't ever see 4.X? MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS. Apple has the absolute best methodology out of the three platforms and they are releasing MAJOR updates to both iOS and now OS X on a YEARLY basis with very little bugs. And those bugs get fixed and released quickly. I've read about the bugs in 4.0.4 with drop calls, etc. It is an AWFUL release. So why does it take so long to get out 4.1 to the 4.0.4 users? Because the Android OS strategy is dysfunctional and run by inexperienced people. Apple's been developing OSs and their hardware platform for decades and they have learned from previous mistakes and have always figured out a better way to do things. Plus they've had to through the transition from 8 bit to 16 bit to 32 bit to 64 bit ranging from a variety of different processors including old Motorola 68K chips, to PowerPC, to Intel and ARM processors. Apple just kicks everyone in terms of CONSISTENCY. It's not even funny. Apple doesn't usually release an OS that people want to go back to the previous version. Windows? Let's talk about Vista, Millenium, 98, ME, the list goes on with how many bad versions of Windows have been released.

          OH, BTW Android doesn't have a platform for the desktop market. So, Android isn't even a contendor. It's just some stupid freebe OS that the cheap mfg use because they want to act like they have a product that can compete with Apple and Microsoft because it's just CHEAP, LOWGRADE CRAP so Google can make money with Ad Clicks.
          • Nobody cares about Apple

            This is neither an Apple or Android article. Go away troll.
        • Correct me if I am wrong

          But are you saying that fragmentation in WP is about fragmented PL to use and fragmentation in Android is that multiple version of apps may be required because the app intended for one version or Android device may not work with another?
      • Nice discussion ;)

        Anyway, why not go back and under even further and talk about Windows (CE) under the hood. The guys actually came up with a common platform on a very low level more than a decade ago, I wrote a number of applications and components and compiled them for a variety of CPU and for both desktop and CE. The fact is - the platform was there even if you want to write in plain C or C++. They neglected the .Net support making a mess with the compact edition, but this was not a failure of the OS, but the .NET team and marketing alone. From my point of view (and I was with CE and pocker editions for 12-15 years) MS just abandoned the platform in the two most important respects - development and marekting. The dev. side of the question is more interesting - having a low level compatibility enabling developers to port software between different OS flavors with a tiny effort makes it unforgivable crime the abandonment on more higher level - .NET, VB, scripting and so on. They had the world in their plams and they killed their own platform which even now can be considered more mature than both android and iOS on that same lower level. The annoyances started with this, the stupid Silverlight stuff happened much later - when I decided I don't want to even hear about MS portable devices any more (after carring always at least one with me from 1997!). Was it so hard to create nice looking shell (nowadays people tend to call these things OS - what a downfall!), a standard for consumer apps that may be limited in some respects but being stable and friendly to all kinds of users can be bough from an application store. All this was possible without killing the dreams of the developers and their options to build new things. Now tell me how can I port legally SQLite to WP7 for instance or can I develop a nice application framework and build apps with it? My point is - the computers portable or not were tools, now they are toys and this will lead to nothing good unless MS changes back to its origins, the same origins that made them what they are. At least they have something below the surface - if they open it their phones and tablets will jump ahead of Apple and Android and the fragmentation is a problem only when there is not common denominator at a sensible level - when your OS is not actually an operationg system (or is not entirely your doing). This is not the case - Win32, DirectX and .NET packaging of them both can be put as a common starting point, the app market can be limited to a higher level API-s and tehcnologies to guarantee that the Joe user will not kill hiumself, but the rest of the people and the devs will not be left helpless to offer solutions that just because of their nature require access to the OS at a lower level.
    • Android leaping ahead of them and Apple?

      I don't think Microsoft cares what Android is or isn't doing to Apple. But this is sort of what we saw with Surface - kind of an "ignore the man behind the curtain" deal. And it pretty much guarantees WP8 will launch with a pop rather than a bang.
    • I think they're hiding a SURFACE PHONE...

      I'm not sure why they'd need to hide the SDK in order to hide a secret Surface Phone, but I have a feeling they're related...
  • Note to Microsoft: you need apps to generate excitement

    Without SDKs, you get no apps. Just FYI.
    • which is why

      they are giving the SDK to their best developers. So they have apps. Decent ones.
      Just FYI
      • You should hope that is NOT the case...

        I would feel insulted if MS refused me an SDK because I wasn't "good enough" to get one. MS needs to get developers on board, and quickly, and that would most certainly *not* be the way to do it.
    • Existing SDK still works right?

      What will be delayed are new features such as NFC, etc. Otherwise developers can still develop for Winpho 8 using Win7.5 SDK. So no big deal.

      In contrast leaking features now may get copied to other platform. Microsoft is just trying to lead it than be the followers.

      Go Microsoft!