Now all Windows developers have been thrown under the bus

Now all Windows developers have been thrown under the bus

Summary: Microsoft's latest boneheaded move is to prevent developers having early access to Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RT...

TOPICS: Windows 8
By now it's clear that Microsoft execs *love* buses. Why else would they be so keen to throw everyone they work with under one?

John looked at the Microsoft campus bus stationary in front of him. He heard a little scratching noise coming from underneath and looked down. Instead of a scared kitten, he saw a young software developer - a hipster-type. There was a  look about him --  that he had the pulse of the new wave of post-PC consumers. Got a great little product, source code in GitHub, MacBook in his messenger bag, all ready to go.

John crouched down to get a better view. "You alright down there?" he asked.

"Just about," the developer said. "Microsoft threw me under this bus. I'm just trying to get used to it." The scratching noise came as he tried to free his hand enough to furtle around his pocket for his Lumia. He was keen to get a picture of the bus's underside on Instagram via 6tag. "I guess it'll get comfortable enough over time." He wriggled around to loosen some of the bigger stones digging into his back.

"So sad," said a lady who had sidled up to John. "It's the same all over town. Developers keen to show support for Microsoft's new tablet strategy are just being thrown under the bus by Microsoft executives. All he wanted was early sight of Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RT to make sure his customers would be adequately supported."

"Huh," said John standing up to address the woman, "he should have bought an MSDN subscription. He got what he deserves for not planning ahead."

"That's the thing," said the lady, "he does. He's fully paid up. And he's on Bizspark. He's got all the Microsoft love you ever did see!"

"Fancy grabbing a cup of coffee?" said John. 


The rules used to be simple. There was, in fact, only one rule. If you developed software for Windows, buy an MSDN subscription and Microsoft would look after you. Part of being looked after is getting early sight of new products, including operating systems.

Microsoft has now moved into some weird parallel universe where developers targeting Windows are not allowed to see it before they're expected to support it.

My ZDNet colleague Mary Jo Foley tipped this fact a few weeks ago. Now we know it's definitely a thing: developers are not getting early access to final bits.

Normal Windows, Windows 7-style Vintage Windows, is the biggest operating system in the world. But now you're in a position where if you deliver software for that, Day One of Windows 8.1 you can expect some number of support cases where your app doesn't work right. That number might be "one support case." Or that number might be "every customer you have." You're not going to know ahead of time. Just keep the pizza delivery guys on speed dial while you beg your developers to work overtime to keep your head above water.

Windows Phone? Last October I wrote about how Windows Phone developers were getting a bad deal on API access on Windows Phone 8. Unbelievably, Microsoft has managed to come up with an even worse scheme this time round. This time, it's just "No early-access soup for you" for everyone.

Finally, if you develop Windows Store apps (the new Metro-style/Modern-style/Whatever-style), not only do you not get an OS to test on, but you don't get the final version of Visual Studio to write it in either. For bonus insults, Microsoft won't give a firm date on the Visual Studio 2013 release.


Honestly, if you develop software for Normal Windows, Metro-style Windows, or Windows Phone at the moment, you might as well just give up. No other firm has the gall to behave like this in our industry. The approach is tremendously disrespectful to Microsoft's software development partners.

Every single operating system vendor gives early sight of releases. You may need to sign-up for some yearly program, but Apple, Google, BlackBerry, they all do it. They have always done it. Only Microsoft is stopping.

Why is Microsoft stopping? My pet theory is that the long lead up to Windows 8 (the best part of a year) allowed everyone to decide it was awful ruining the release for Microsoft. This time round, Microsoft stays in control. "You can only see it when it's done," they're saying. Guess what, Microsoft. Windows 8 wasn't very good. Spin it however you want, it wasn't the tech press, pundits, analysts, or early adopters that made it rubbish. It was you guys.

I get the approach of keeping silent and maintaining control. But ours is a professional industry. We are a good industry full of people who write software with diligent care. It's just not possible to do a diligent, professional job and support end users well when software developers cannot touch and experience what they're targeting.

Developers cannot support Microsoft without Microsoft supporting developers. It has always been this way. More to the point, it has always worked when done in this way. There has never been an ounce of controversy about this approach from the outside. It's always made sense.

How many more groups can Microsoft throw under the bus? Windows Phone developers last year; OEMs and retail partners with Surface; indie games developers by deprecating XNA; enterprises and sysadmin professionals by removing TechNet; and now this.

Finally, one more time: If you think that developing for Microsoft platforms is something you want to do, don't bother.

Find a partner who'll love you better.

What do you think? Post a comment, or talk to me on Twitter: @mbrit.

Image credit: Rico Shen, Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0, via Wikimedia

Topic: Windows 8

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  • Needless negativity

    ... as an MSDN subscriber, I would have liked early access to 8.1 RTM, but not because this would give me privileged access to hidden APIs. As MJF notes, "At Build this year, Microsoft told developers who wanted to build apps for Windows 8.1 to use the Visual Studio 2013 preview and the Windows 8.1 consumer preview to update their apps to take advantage of the new features in Windows 8.1. Officials detailed the application programming interface (API) changes that Windows 8.1 will bring".

    Matt's comments are just plain peevish.
    • Last I checked

      Some people actually...gasp- enjoy Windows 8. Why? Because they aren't bothered by the same things that you are. I was talking with an IT guy at an old job. His only beefs with Windows 8 were back-end things that consumers would never deal with and the vast majority of companies would be paying a small majority to handle.

      Along those same lines, of the 5-10,000 most downloaded apps, many of these are from developers that are quite sizable or extremely dedicated. This might have an effect on your amateur apps that have relatively few downloads. Even your beloved Android or Apple really only has a few thousand apps that really need to stay working to keep the overwhelming majority of users happy. Even then, Windows 8/Windows RT still allows web access.

      I really don't see how the average Joe consumer will even see any potential backlash from developers or IT pros.
      • Rubbish...

        We have 6 thousand employees and we have been trying to get some of them to try Windows 8 without any luck, they keep going back to Windows 7 which they state is easier to use. We have even given out 50 Windows 8 tablets and told them they even take them home, still they will not use it. They are just gathering dust and now a waste of money.

        Windows 8.1 has to be a huge improvement or we will be with Windows 7 for a long time.
        • What sort of company

          Are you in? Just wondering.
          And oh I could make up that kind of story too...
          • A unique one

            None of the purchased machines ever given to me had a like or dislike check box on it. It is all I got and if I didn't like it I could register my complaint in the cylinder on the floor next to my desk.

            Sounds like his company has forgotten it's not a democracy.
          • company that values input

            While for the most part I've had companies give me tech in a like it or lump it scenario. My most recent employer was going to give me a MacBook and iPhone. I said he could keep them I had just left a job with a company issued iPhone and never want to be forced to use that again, and my Lenovo I would grant full access to the company if needed so I could use it. Heck I was even given the opportunity to choose my own company car which was a first in seeing as my last 7 company cars across a few employers were always selected for me.

            Employers are more and more open to allowing user input into the tech they use. Sucks for IT departments but thank Google and Apple for their mobile efforts in forcing this change on IT.
        • The trick with Windows 8 is to not treat it like Windows 7.

          I and some of my family had some initial frustration until I quit trying to do everything like I did it in Win 7 once you do that it is easier and faster to navigate than 7. Having the start menu is way slower than using the search.
          • You know 7 has search, too, right?

            Plus the advantage of your screen not winking out when you hit the windows key.
          • Not always

            Sometimes, I like to sit idly with my chin on my hand, browsing through things with the mouse. It's annoying to thing that I always have to use the keyboard for everything - just as, when I'm seriously working, I like to have both hands on the keyboard and be able to control menu items via ALT+F commands.

            That's two ways of using the PC that Microsoft have made worse - the deprecation of the file menu for mouse free work, and the deprecation of the start menu for keyboard free use.

            The sensible thing would have been to just add the search and leave it at that. It's not as if the start menu takes up a huge amount of space when it's not in use. The only reason to remove it is rampant minimalism.

            Sometimes you know that you have an application, but can't remember what it's called. In which case a hierarchy of related applications is useful.

            Or you might want to explore the wonderful new load of developer tools you've never looked at before - which in the old world were nicely grouped under a menu.

            Search is a useful feature, but I really hate the idea of "you don't need to know where it is, let me find it for you" - discouraging healthy curiosity,. in other words.

            Humans like to organise and remember things in a hierarchy. Windows 8 is flat in every way - and sucks because of it.
          • There is a reason auto makers stick to steering wheel and...

            pedals - people got use to it and everybody knows how to use it.
      • None of this has anything to do with the topic of the article

        Which is about developer access to the new Windows,so that the users aren't bombarded with problems when the new OS launches. It would mean time for us to check that everything works, and preload the store with Win 8.1 checked apps.

        No biggy - i view it as Microsoft's problem if my apps go south. I'll get to fixing it after the fact at my own pace.
    • This article reeks

      When I started reading this article it sounded like a bad novel. As a published Windows 8 developer all this is just over hyped opportunistic crap Microsoft Bashing.
      Yes I would have loved to have gotten my oily mitts on Windows 8.1 RTM, but take it from Microsofts stand point. Their OS would have been reviewed months in advance even before manufacturers could build great hardware for it and people would have been negatively influenced by biased people like Matt and their BS agenda clearly shown in this article. This has NOTHING to do with developers. Your code worked on Windows 8, the CP and will most definitely work on 8.1. If you really want to add some secret thing you don't want to pull the trigger on what difference will it be if you did it now or 4 months from now? Nothing.

      Opportunistic Anti-Microsoft bashing. That's all.
      Dreyer Smit
      • nice

        You are developer, and you don't care?

        You just can't make this stuff up.
        • #Fail

          You clearly misunderstand.
          Dreyer Smit
          • We don't need Microsoft ecosystem...

   modern IT world. Let them die on the sands.
            Napoleon XIV
          • @Napoleon XIV

            You may not need/like something. That's your personal choice.

            But wishing some one to die is not a healthy thinking. Please change it.
      • "most definitely" is a strong choice of words

        Maybe i've been at this too long, but i test and validate everything before i make assumptions.
        • @Mac_PC_FenceSitter

          It's a little strong; But that's the promise from MS. And even though all their promises are not carried, I would think they have to keep their promise in this case.

          "Most probably" might be the right word here.
      • Re: people would have been negatively influenced

        Because the entire might of Microsoft's multi-billion-dollar PR machine cannot stand against a few words from ZDNet's handful of humble bloggers.
      • M$ Rocks

        Sorry but Dreyer is just right. They just want to release their OS the best way possible, not leaving a single margin for those biased guys to say the OS has any fault whatsover. Bad thing is that they only make software, so they have to educate their hardware partners as well, so that the whole thing gets perfect. (Yeah, I pretty much really like Win8).

        Just another thing: They're kings on software development. They have not forgotten that they told their developers to develop on VS2013 beta and test on 8.1 preview and they heck do know what they are doing. Everyone's software will work just fine. Relax and watch it happen :)