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

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.

nokia-lumia-820 CNET
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

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  • Of all the things Microsoft does well...

    Marketing hasn't been one of them. C'mon!! Get us excited again about your products, MS!!! We're all eagerly waiting and excited because of the potential. Please don't mess that up. ( =
  • When secrecy is not a good thing: Microsoft and Windows Phone 8

    The secrecy is going to work out better for Microsoft. It makes perfect sense to me. They get the top apps ported to WP8 so when its released you will have those apps ready to go. The secrecy is like a bonus, you already have this awesome fun filled OS that does what you need then Microsoft will say "wait, there's more! Did you know it has this, this, and this?" Then you will be really excited because it can do those features. The buzz is already building up around Nokia's 920 and will outsell the 900.

    You must have forgotten that Microsoft already has a Windows Phone Store with apps in it. They started from zero with WP7 and now look how fast they filled up. The Microsoft Marketplace actually had a faster rate of app submissions/approvals than any other mobile store. They already hit the ground running and now are adding a jetpack.

    All this "I want to be in the know because I'm a blogger" stuff is silly. You guys have no reason to be in the know, the developers do and the top ones are.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Not about being in the know

      This is not about being in the know, it's about restricting access to the SDK that developers who want to be working on apps right now can't have. That's what this is about.
      • Do you know how many apps are available to WP8 on launch day?

        More than 100,000. Developers can work on WP8 compatible apps right now and have been able to for 2 years now.
        • But not with new OS features

          The SDK is the only way to use the new, secret features of the OS. Those will now only be exploited down the road, after the launch and when phones start to become available.
          • So?

            "Those will now only be exploited down the road, after the launch and when phones start to become available."

            WP8 phones will be competitive with other competing smartphones on day 1 of release. Sure, there won't be any "lenses" apps for WP8 but there aren't any for any other smartphone so it isn't like WP8 on launch day will be behind the competition.

            I could understand your concern if WP8 was launching without an SDK but that simply isn't true. WP8 has an SDK in place already. Anyone who wants to release an app for WP8 launch day already has everything they need.

            Suggesting otherwise is like suggesting iPhone 5 is doomed, doomed I tell you because some parts of the SDK (like resolution, that isn't important, is it?) were kept secret until a few days before launch. Oh noes. Epic fail.

            "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"

            This was your quote. You need to defend that quote given that it is totally inaccurate. WP8 will have more than 100,000 apps in the marketplace from day one and it is as easy for developers to write those apps today as it was 2 years ago.
          • Read the MSFT blog post linked

            MSFT states that the SDK in question allows developers to optimize their apps for WP8. Those without the SDK cannot optimize them for WP8. That's a big deal in my book.
          • Could be that WP7 apps won't run well on WP8

            So at least that is an argument.

            My guess? If the WP7 app runs well on a 1.4 GHz single core processor, it will run at least as well on a 1.5 GHz dual core processor.

            We'll see who is right and who is wrong on launch day.
          • Perhaps Toddy has inside information...

            ...from the people in Redmond who write his script?

            That's probably a good reason not to feed him....but, still...too often I can't resist. One of my many weaknesses no doubt.
          • You would need inside information to guess about this one?

            So anyone who guessed that iOS5 apps would run at least as well on iPhone 5 as they do on iPhone 4S must have gotten that inside information from the people in Cupertino who wrote their scripts?

            Why would my guess be the least bit controversial?

            Oops, I just fed a script reading troll by the name of UGottaBKidding.
          • False equivalency again Toddy

            Pounce on one comment that you made that is arguably self-evident but ignore the many other 'talking points'. That, combined with your propensity for assigning to others the very things you yourself engage in....these are hallmarks of the professional word spinner. But, now that I've said that, you'll no doubt try to accuse me of the same despite my unambiguous declaration of amateur-hood.

            No scripts from me Toddy...no words for hire. But you, you're a truly great word spinner Todd. Truly. There must be better markets for your skills...and more professional satisfaction to be gained elsewhere...surely.
          • What other talking points?

            When have I ever made any "unusual" guesses that could only have turned out to be right had I had inside information? In fact, I can think of occasions where my guesses have actually been wrong, like when I stated that there was no technical reason why WP7 phone hardware would be technically incompatible with a WP8 core and so suggested that people were being premature when they stated that no WP7 phone could run WP8.

            Wait a second, unless I'm being intentionally wrong on occasion just to maintain my cover?

            Uh oh, I've just blown your mind.

            Now that you mention it, that is odd that those people knew that WP7 phones wouldn't be upgradable to WP8 long before that was ever publicly announced. Are you suggesting that all those people on ZDNet who write hate post after hate post about MS are actually MS insiders who are just trying to make Apple fans look bad? I can't claim credit for that one, that is athynz's guess. But how does athynz know that?

            Wait a second, now I've just blown MY mind.
          • My mind blown too!

            If only by the fact that you admitted an ability to err!
          • Ofcourse not.

            Performance is not simply as number of cores and frequencies on them.

            Apps for WinP7 where developed on completely different hardware, and completly different software.

            MS will try their best to make sure there is no degradation (and well they have all those apps in their store, so they can test them).

            But that is that. If your app is just slow for some reason on WinP8. Its your bad luck. If your app really need those new features. Its your bad luck. If you have promised your customers new features. Its your bad luck.
          • No they will not.

            There will not be much apps with NFS. Nor with any other feature.

            What you will get will be Windows Phone 8 hardware, and OS.
            But apps will still be in Windows Phone 7 era.

            100k apps from OS which did not sold... (and those apps did not helped)

            There is also this thing about sales you all talk about. But hey how can there be good sales from day one, when nobody know anything about WinP8 that is worth buying (and is not catch up with Andi) ?

            If MS create hype on day one. Sales will not go up. People will just start to realize that there is new option in the town.

            IT WILL TAKE TIME.
            For both devs to make their apps use features. And for customers to learn about availability of new choice.

            PS NO There will not be any significant day 0 presence in carrier shops. WinP7 was disaster for them. They will not make another try unless they know its safe. (here too prelaunch hype would help!)
          • Total Baloney

            WP7 was not a disaster. Sure, sales weren't sublime, but I sure as hell wouldn't call it a disaster. The masses are still uneducated about Windows Phone, which is sad, but I've already seen a lot of buzz around WP8. I think 2013 is going to be an epic year for the OS.

            @JamesKendrick While you're able to develop C++ and Javascript apps in WP8, the majority of apps will be .NET based. Aside from access to some additional, secret APIs, there is no "optimization" required.

            Keeping features a secret is a fantastic idea. I look forward to hearing about it. It creates hype and excitement. There are many developers that are able to take advantage of these features and there'll be many apps using them at launch, so it's not a big deal that every single developer doesn't have access to the "final" SDK as yet.
            General C#
      • They can work on apps right now.

        Just use the current SDK. It makes apps that work fine on WP8.

        For features *specific to WP8, I actually think it's good to have accomplished, competent and dedicated developers taking a whack at those first. The end result will be quality, setting a bar for the other developers that follow. That raises the quality of the marketplace in general.
    • re: "When secrecy is not a good thing..."

      ""wait, there's more! Did you know it has this, this, and this?""

      Oh Look. It's Ron Popeil & Ronco.
    • its a shame then

      that Android has kicked wp to the kerb

      It is a rushed product, that is why there is no sdk, no previews etc, so expect more than the usual number of bugs for a MS v1.0 release.

      MS & Nokia have consistently underdelivered, so no reason to expect anything else now.

      PS I wish they would stop showing pictures of the 920 in every article, it is really hard to look at, it is just a mess of red...................very grating on the eyes, and the yellow one is more sickly.
  • secrecy makes sense

    it really does make sense to me. or else they will end up like apple and everyone will know what to expect amd it wont be exciting and it will make it look lame. just my thoughts......and also since im pretty sure that 100,000 apps in WP7 are supposed to work on WP8 it wont be that big of a deal.....after a few weeks they will all be up and running perfectly bug free(i hope).
    Truitt Dill