Microsoft offers developers cash to write Windows 8 apps

Microsoft offers developers cash to write Windows 8 apps

Summary: In an apparent policy turnaround, Microsoft is now using cash to try to get more developers to write apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.


Up until last year, it seemed to be an unwritten (or maybe written) policy that the Windows client team wouldn't pay developers to write apps for Windows 8.


But that edict seems to have been rescinded. Microsoft is now offering developers $100 for each Windows 8 and/or Windows Phone 8 app they write, up to a total of 10 apps per Store. This limited-time promotion -- which started March 8 and runs until June 30, 2013 -- is known as the "Keep the Cash" offer. (Participants must live within the 50 United States and be at least 18, according to the fine print.)

Microsoft has paid for the development of Windows Phone, but not Windows 8, apps in the past. As The Verge's Tom Warren noted, not everyone thinks paying for app development is a sound idea. But Microsoft definitely  needs more Windows Store/Metro-Style apps, especially given the fact that these kinds of apps are almost the only ones which will are able to run on Windows RT and Surface RT devices.

I've spoken with some business app developers writing apps for Windows 8 who've said Microsoft didn't pay directly for them to write for the platform, but did still indirectly fund app-development work.

Officials with Microsoft partner Sogeti, for example, talked about Microsoft funding "proof of concept" apps by playing matchmaker between devs and customers, offering devs some money up front for their app-development time.

In recent months, Microsoft has been stepping up the app-development promotion pace around Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Last week, company officials posted a free two-part video aimed at developers interested in writing apps for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

With the coming "Blue" release, Microsoft is expected to bring its Windows and Windows Phone dev platforms and app models closer together, making it easier for developers to write once and run on any version of Windows.

Update: As a few readers have noted, $100 is not a whole lot of money when it comes to building true value-add apps. But as Microsoft is dinged repeatedly for the quantity of apps it has in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store, it seems like the company is trying to play the quantity game, more than the quality one, with this particular promotion.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Software Development, Windows Phone


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • $100?

    100 bucks? Wow... that *might* cover the bags of Doritos and cans of Jolt that the developed consumed while coding his app.

    Totally worth it.
    • $100 per app

      Yes, it does sound chintzy. Until you look at the kinds of apps in the Store (and not just the Windows Store, but iPad, too). The bulk of these are pretty flimsy and probably not things that would take a lot of work. I agree with you if it was $100 per line of business app it would be pretty lame! MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Now that you mention it...

        Ouch... does Microsoft really want to populate the Windows store with the sorts of apps that a $100 bounty would provide an inducement to create? Maybe this is just about prodding developers to produce enough flashlight, guitar tuner and goofy laugh apps that Microsoft can brag about the 500,000 apps that are in the Windows store.
        • Sorry, that escalated quickly

          But you pretty much hit the nail on the head. Numbers seems more important than quality when discussing the size of your store. There might be 1000 useful apps on any of them outside of games when you really boil them down. And out of those there might be 50-100 a person would actually use. So... 500k apps is a silly metric to judge how awesome your store is. My wife agrees when I say it's all in how you use it.
          • rather

            I'd really rather Microsoft put some strategic resources into inducing a few high quality developers, than the shotgun $100.00 approach. Is there a Photoshop RT, yet for instance? It's been a while since I looked, but last time there were some notable lacunae.
          • They do

            Microsoft DOES do this. They have clearly courted Rovio, for example. But they are either not doing enough or it's simply taking too long for the big guns to get their Windows RT apps ready.

            The same happened with Windows Phone, but now that store is quite mature and good enough for most users.
        • No, they dont...not really...

          But as you said they are likely struggling to close the gap on the hundreds of thousands of appstore replicated apps of things like "enough flashlight, guitar tuner and goofy laugh apps" that we all know, including you, as you didnt just pull that line out of nonexistence, that Apple has.

          The sheer number of apps in a store means little. Millions, just like me, with an iPhone will advise you that real interesting and valuable apps, aside from those that are worthwhile to narrow and specific groups, are nothing even close to 10,000 in the app store never mind the well over 500,000 they now have.

          Its rediculous. When you get in there and really start cruising around to see what there is, much of it is ludicrous to most people. Pointless silly narrowly focused overly whimsicle apps. Thousands on thousands of them. More fun to get a chuckle out of just finding out someone actually created such a thing than to actually buy it and use it.

          Ya, Microsoft wants thousands more just like Apple has and the only reason is because they see a raft of idiots online saying having 500,000 apps in your store has some kind of genuine value on its own. They know thats actually just trash talk, we should too, but some around here who seem to NEED to explain why Windows and MS is so horrible all the time occasionally drag the 500,000 app number out like some old corpse that they claim is proof the king lives. It isnt, but if thats what they have to do to get that dumb argument set aside so be it.

          When I upgrade to a newer phone than my poor old iPhone it may be to a new iPhone 5, I really like them. But if I do, it sure as hell wont be because the App store has 700,000 apps and the Windows store only has 150,000.
      • Commission the development of first rate apps

        I think MS should focus on the development of a cross section of first rate apps for its Windows platforms, and it could possibly get together with third party developers, and commission some of them to produce these apps. MS could also promote and support these apps like crazy, then over time, the developers who produce these apps could expand to other projects. Instead of playing the numbers game, play the quality game, and get an edge in the market this way. Trying to get a large number of apps could be a secondary goal. I think MS should get around to doing this ASAP.
        P. Douglas
    • Wait a sec.

      By your logic, wouldn't you just break even, or do they pay royalties if they charge money for said developed app?
      Richard Estes
    • MS should pay more for their UI designers.

      MS should pay more for their UI designers to bring something better than Metro Start Screen Ex-Menu.
      • Well, to each their own.

        I actually really like it. I know others that like it. For example, I cringe at the thought of replacing my iPhone with an Android because I think the UI looks like the inside of a dead carp, metaphysically speaking of course.

        I think the look of Android phones just turn me off totally. The Windows 8 phone to me looks modern and very new. I look at it and it screams high tech to me.

        I think when people who dont get the WP8 look, its like people who dont really understand automobiles and high performance look at an F1 car and cannot see the beauty in it, and say its ugly, are only doing so from the point of veiw of someone who thinks a Lincoln Continental looks high performance to them.

        I couldnt bring myself to buy an Android phone mainly because I dont see it offering anything so specacular to make me have to put up with the uninspired look of a comfortable old chair sitting in the corner of a dusty old living room. Its going to be iPhone 5 or WP8 for me when I replace the old iPhone.
    • $100 is not much

      I agree that 100$ is not much for a real business, but it matters when I am programing in my spare time. Its then my money and getting $100 rather than paying the store fee to put my app in the store would make me more active in writing an app or two. This will help get more apps fro home developers.

      Alas, I am still excluded as I'm out of the US. Its a pitty that American businesses seem to think that people beyond the borders of the US are in a dangerous frightening wilderness and are to be excluded from this. I'd be satisfied with just a free access to the store.

      Wait! I can hear the tom tom drums again! I'd better hide ...
  • US Only?

    If they are trying to increase the development of Windows Store spps, why ostracize the rest of the world?
    Karl Newark
    • Apparently because it's being run by the US Marketing Team

      From the link's comments:

      "@Tom - my understanding is that this promotion is being run by the US marketing team, so they would not extend it."

      Which would imply that it doesn't have the authority to operate outside the US.
  • Aaah, Bribery what MS knows all too well

    The MS Mantra:

    1. Can't compete on technical superiority, spread FUD.
    2. Can't compete on price, bribe 'em.

    It's pathetic that they have to pay companies to write apps for their Turds of OS's.

    Apple didn't have to pay anyone and the costs to enter were steep (had to buy a Mac).
    Google didn't have to pay anyone.
    Symbian didn't have to pay any one
    Nor did Palm.
    • Google did pay developers...

      Which is probably where MS got the idea.
    • Paying people to write for your platform is legitimate... long as the recipients are free to write for whatever other platforms they care to.

      But again, if MS has to resort to this, it indicates that the current supply is a lot less than MS would like.
      John L. Ries
    • Recheck your facts

      What are inferring is technically superior?

      Android is a fractured unergonomic pos and ios has taken multiple whole versions just to reach passe

      and both apple and google paid or funded developers in the beginning
  • re: Can't get any real interest from app developers....

    "I find it interesting, the difference between FOSS developers and closed source developers. Passion!"

    I agree with you completely. As a "closed source" developer, I have a deep and abiding passion to make enough money from my software development career to pay my mortgage so that I don't have to live in my parents' basement like a FOSS developer.
    Sir Name
    • There are very few living in their parents basement

      unless they are underage.

      Most are doing quite well being paid for what they do. 80-90K per year and up.