Microsoft builds Snapchat-like WindUp for Windows Phone

Microsoft builds Snapchat-like WindUp for Windows Phone

Summary: With no Snapchat for Windows Phone yet, Microsoft has quietly launched its own rival app.

2014-08-15 12.00.43 pm
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has published its own 'ephemeral messaging' app WindUp, offering Windows Phone users its take on Snapchat.

Spotted by Neowin, Microsoft Research has released WindUp for Windows Phone 8 and 8.1, giving users pretty much the same time-capped messages that Snapchat has become famous for, but without the app's newer live video chat feature.

According to the app's description, the app lets Windows Phone users "create and share fun, temporary messages and media with friends", including pictures, videos, audio snippets, and text. Like Snapchat, the message expires according to a time limit set by the user.

Microsoft chose the name WindUp because a timer interface on the app can spice up a message add a little competitive tension. "Set a low limit to "wind up" your friends as they race to see what you've posted, or set the limit high to make your message last longer," says Microsoft Research.

It's not clear why Microsoft Research, which investigates everything from social science to machine learning, developed the app. It does have a number of apps to its name on the Windows Store, including Socl, a social network initially aimed at university students that eventually opened up to anyone.

While Microsoft may see opportunities for itself in the messaging app space, another possible reason for WindUp's creation is that Snapchat isn't yet available on Windows Phone and some of the platform's users are upset about having to make do with unofficial versions of the messaging app. There's even a Snapchat for Windows Phone 8 Facebook community page (with 5,300 likes) which aims to pester Snapchat developers into building it.

According to an AMA this May on Reddit with Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's design lead for Windows Phone hardware, the company is "talking" with Snapchat about getting the app to its OS. But until those talks bear fruit, Windows Phone users are left with a choice between unofficial Snapchat versions or WindUp.

Read more on Windows Phone

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Windows Phone

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Trying to stay relevant ...

    is always a good idea !
  • Lazy

    Once you create the web services backend, the front end mobile clients are easy. Most of the front end code can be ported, for example Java to C# is easy. Companies like snapchat are LAZY!
    Sean Foley
    • counter offer

      Developers are not getting enough demand to warrant effort of initial development and ongoing support. Microsoft only paid a few of the big app makers to develop for Windows Phone. Microsoft needs to create a large-scale app development fund ($500m-$1b) to facilitate porting FEATURE-COMPLETE apps from the other platforms. In the mobile segment, operating systems must have a great value proposition to offer the developers. If the users aren't already there, then money is the only thing that will talk.

      Few apps are developed on the desktop by mobile app developers for them to even care that Microsoft is moving towards a unified core for desktop and mobile operating systems - there was a collective shrug by many developers when Microsoft announced that.

      Developers need to see Microsoft itself has already convinced enough users to switch and stay loyal to Windows Phone to see a benefit in developing for Windows Phone. But snapchat is lazy? More like apathetic. What's in it for the developer to develop for a product developed and maintained by a company still stuck in a waterfall mentality when they need a more agile environment? I don't blame snapchat or any other app developer for not developing for Windows Phone.

      Microsoft (and Apple) is too d*mned slow for its own good and has tied its updates to major update releases (most times by controlled by carriers) unless end-users are willing to kill their warranties in order to get the latest Windows Phone version through the Windows Phone Preview for Developers that has its own unique issues.

      This perceived laziness of snapchat by you is ALL on Microsoft's ineptitude. Microsoft took over FOUR years in developing a proper notification center (which ... sucks) when HTC clearly was starting to do so for Windows Mobile 6.5 before its demise. MICROSOFT is lazy and they still don't allow natively-coded 3rd party browsers when it'd be to the end-users' benefit who use Chrome, Opera, Firefox, etc. on their Windows PCs. Stop calling developers lazy for being inactive on Windows Phone because they recognize the obvious.
      • Sorry but

        Developers are lazy! The snap-chat dev team could knock-out a solid beta in month. I'm sure they'll cave eventually, there are millions of WP users around the world so why ignore them?
        • That's their call, not yours

          They have got coverage of 96% of mobile users with their current apps. It is up to them to determine whether yet another app (and all the support needs that go with it) are worth adding 4% coverage.
          • But now they run the risk of MS creating an Android and iOS version

            given that they already did most of the work for WP8.

            And MS has the ability to get their offering onto phones over snapchat.

            Could be they never thought MS would make their own, so could be a miscalculation.
          • Miscalculation?

            Maybe you missed the part of the comment where it states that developers are already covering 96% of mobile users (iOS and Android). With development cost, support cost etc, where's the value in developing for the other 4%? It's not financially viable to do so.

            Microsoft themselves haven't taken their own platform serious, look how long it's taken for them to build a touch base Office. So why should developers?
          • Touch Office

            is a little more complicated than snapchat. :\
            Michael Alan Goff
          • @ Mac_PC_FenceSitter

            The analysis on these kinds of articles is actually misleading.

            The consumer mobile OS platform market is heavily fragmented unlike how it was with Microsoft and Apple in the consumer PC OS market. Google's Android version has only like 65% or 60% of the market worldwide compared to 10% to 15% for Apple.

            Check this link at which is actually old but newer articles already show more marketshare for non-Google owned Android:

            The problem is not with apps and appstores. The only company that has nailed the appstore market is Apple's iOS and that is also temporary. It just has too many competitors - Google's original Android, Amazon's FireOS, Samsung's Tizen, Baidu's version of Android, Microsoft's WP, Tencent's own appstore etc.

            It is not just mobile OS platform numbers that do not tell reality when analysts forget to classify non-Google Android versions along with Google's Android and other OS makers around the world. Even messaging app numbers are heavily skewed in journalistic reporting since they ignore Viber, Line, Kakao.

            Just look at WeChat from TenCent and their aggressive 500 million user number and tell me if Facebook or Google's messaging apps can be ever secure.

            Historically, we are not at the stage of deciding who won the mobile OS wars. Or who has the highest number of mobile apps. Those numbers are useless because that battle is over. Apple won the first battle handsomely. But that ends there.

            Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and even Microsoft that has lost the first battle have already lost the 2nd battle - expansion in emerging economies. If anyone has a chance, it would be Google, Facebook and may be Microsoft. Apple has no appstore presence due to price unreachability in SE Asia, S Asia, Central/South Africa and South America. Apple misread the markets and iPhone 6 or 7 or 8 will not surely a growth product. It is a replacement product. Big and huge difference in market reach versus delivering 25$ or 50$ smartphones like what Moto, Xiaomi or Lumia divisions are doing or will do like Lava, Micromax, Pinoy, Axioo, Polytron etc.

            Face it - Apple has lost its script and is living on borrowed time. They should have got into adjacent consumer markets - carrier television, mobile carrier, game consoles, smartwatch etc by now and they are lagging.

            Apple is still talking about phablets that were long released by Samsung. That is sad if you talk about innovation.
    • Energetic

      "for example Java to C# is easy" -- There is not a one-to-one mapping between the languages so it can not be done automatically. Therefore you might as well rearchitect the code. That is exactly the project which I am on today. Though we are going in the other direction and leaving Windows for Linux. The OS switch makes it even more imperative that we do this manually. Code always gets better with rewrites because it can utilize modern technology which was not available when the code was first written.
      Tim Jordan
  • 2015 called

    2015 called and asked what snapchat is.
  • Great innovation from Microsoft Research!

    Not really... They should focus on other things than "me too" projects, like e.g.:
    • My guess is that

      it didn't really take them that much time to make this app and set up the backend. After all the snap chap app doesn't really do that much.