Windows Phone 8: Are there still any real surprises left?

Windows Phone 8: Are there still any real surprises left?

Summary: As more code leaks, many Microsoft phone developers are questioning Redmond's wisdom in not making all of Windows Phone 8's features, as well as the SDK itself, public.


Microsoft's decision to hold off on making its Windows Phone 8 software development kit (SDK) public until it launches Windows Phone 8 -- on October 29 -- has not made Microsoft's Windows Phone community very happy. (And that's putting it mildly.)

Instead of making the SDK available to developers this summer, as promised earlier this year, Microsoft officials opened the SDK to a limited number of additional testers recently. But those who didn't make the cut based on Microsoft-set criteria cannot build applications that take advantage of the new features in the Windows Phone 8 operating system and devices until after Microsoft and partners launch. For a platform with only three percent market share and which desperately needs more apps and developers, that sure seems like an unpopular and questionable strategy.


Microsoft officials explained the company's timing decision by saying it was trying to hold back on sharing unannounced OS features, which could be (and are) discoverable by accessing the emulators. 

But it turns out there may not be a whole lot of these surprise features left to share -- at least if a WPCentral demo of what is believed to be the near-final version of the Windows Phone 8 OS that's part of  the leaked SDK -- is indicative.

"(No,) there are not any big 'reveals' here," blogged WPCentral's Daniel Rubino in a September 25 post. "That can be because of a few reasons (1) there just isn't anymore or (2) Microsoft even has areas of the SDK locked down, meaning devs can't see all of the OS just yet."

Rubino tweeted on September 26 that the SDK build he demonstrated doesn't include the final build of the Windows Phone 8 OS. (The Windows Phone 8 OS is believed to have been released to manufacturing on September 15, but Microsoft officials have not publicly acknowledged this to be the case.)

The leaked SDK does, however, include some of the leaked features of the operating system which Microsoft officials still have not officially acknowledged, including Kids Corner (a parental-safety feature) and Rooms (a group chatting and sharing feature).

Many planned Windows Phone 8 OS ("Apollo") features leaked at the start of this calendar year. Microsoft officials still haven't publicly acknowledged or shared more information about the replacement for the Zune PC software client (which I've heard is codenamed "Daphne"; whether/how Mobile Internet Explorer 10 will include proxy support (like Amazon's Silk); or data-metering support -- all of which were mentioned in leaked Microsoft documents and videos earlier this year.

Developers are putting pressure on Microsoft to make the Windows Phone 8 SDK available to all and to stop trying to hold back so as to have a few surprises left come October 29. I doubt the Softies are going to backtrack, and expect them to continue to maintain that because Windows Phone 7 apps will be able to run on Windows Phone 8, all will be right with the world, come launch.

Given all the changes Microsoft is making in its core Windows and Windows Phone platforms -- not to mentioning their associated development frameworks and tools -- in the coming months, I'd think the Softies would be doing as much to try to keep their existing developers in the fold as they are to get new ones onboard....

Topics: Smartphones, Microsoft, Software Development, Windows


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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  • Let's hope!

    That MS is just hiding some nifty new features rather than the product just not being ready.
    • Yeah.

      I'm with you on that. Expectations are much higher with this secrecy. Holding back the SDK will be a major fail unless there is something new that really stands out and is way cooler than what the competition has. Even a cool gimmicky feature would be welcome but it needs to make people want to get this phone over the existing entrenched competition. Wireless charging isn't it by the way. How bout a built-in remote pet feeder. Push a button on the phone and, where ever your cat is, it gets food. LOL!
    • Let´s hope!

      That this FUD-Patenttroll will fail big !!
      • Troll alert...

        I swear, I see Watchmen247 spam the same comment on every article about MS that I read...
    • Let's hope

      its ready but I am afraid it's not. So many times that they missed the holidays slot...
  • Creating expectations

    By holding back, Microsoft is raising expectations. If they don't have something significant and new when Oct 26 rolls around, and it seems they were holding back for no reason, Windows Phone 8 will be perceived as a let-down. So they'd better deliver something new and interesting.
    • From what we already know it's better than ios6 and jellybean

      So no, no let-down here no matter what they do or don't announce in october. But the bit about not releasing the sdk will have to be explained if there arent a bunch of unleaked features. And there's probably a lot more leaking coming between now and november.
      Johnny Vegas
      • yeah, I'm sure its

        magically better than OSs that have been out for years. From a company that can't even get its act together. They waste so much try stuffing "windows" into every product they try to do (the kin?) they end up so far behind everytime. Windows,windows,windows is going to kill the company.
        I guarantee its just not ready, rather than some secret whiz-bang new features they have to keep secret. Its a half baked excuse/attempt at being like apple as usual (disclaimer: not apple fanboi). They have bitten off way more than they can chew with this whole windows 8 everywhere shift its going to be a collosal train wreck.
        • You tell the oldest story in IT legends.

          “Windows,windows,windows is going to kill the company”

          Ha! What a joke. What an absolutely ridiculous joke!

          And not the real funny kind either, just the monumentally STUPID basted in FUD kind of joke.

          It seems like from the first day Windows was ever released there has been the avid haters who have little more to do then to sit around in a self indulgent circle jerk praying Windows dies.

          Instead Windows just keeps getting better and better.

          It really is time that the people around here who are willing to write realistic even handed posts that are not simply mindless nonsense and often pure lies start telling some of these moron posters what they think about their stupid posts.

          Why should people who want to write reasonable posts and read reasonable posts that make at least some sense, constantly find these bits of crappy writing polluting these posting forums. There is an impression that these kinds of forums are for people to find out pertinent and relevant information, not to read up on peoples fantasies about how the company they hate the most will expire.

          You Windows haters have zero credibility and zero brains if you think anyone even takes the first line of what you write as even making sense.

          Go back to your circle and do what you do best.
          • Better and better?

            All you need to do is take one look at Microsoft's historyical handling of Window Phone (Formerly Windows Mobile, Formerly Windows Compact Edition, or (inadvertently accurate) "wince" for short), and you would know not to get your hopes up.

            It doesn't matter which company you evangelize. A raving fanboi is a raving fanboi. Your frothing at the mouth vitriol against anyone not drinking the Microsoft Koolaid is just as bad as the Apple fanbois who do the same.
          • Here're why WP8 is just as crap.

            Can WP8 do that already? Still attach pic / videos from the gallery only? Can we finally attach multiple office docs now?

            Why are there limited to only 5 notification placeholders on the lock screen? Can't we have more like Android?

            Just admit it. Nothing is amazing for WP. We asked for folder tiles to group tiles, yet MS gave us only re-sizable tiles, and this ended up making the whole start screen fills with lines / gaps and checker board game alike. Seriously, I think you are the one who has zero brain and credibility rather.
          • Relax Cayble, slow down, your pressure is too high

            let it go, you know, life is change, think about, there is life after Windows, repeat slowly, there is life after Windows, I know it touch you a lot, but life goes on, bad OSs disappear, bad products disappear, life goes on...
          • Your from the other circle jerk right?

            You post lies and FUD about Apple yet take offense when somebody posts it about MS. You are the definition of a hypocrite.
        • iOS 6 and Jelly Bean

          have not been out for years.

          Michael Alan Goff
          • And WP8 isn't better than either of them

            Each will be better than the other 2 for certain people, but none are overall better for everyone than the others.
        • How do you know...

          I think your comments would be more credible if you'd actually seen or worked with the new device. Your speculation is meaningless and a little heavy-handed.

          Not an Apple fanboi? Really? Just a Microsoft hater?
          Lalita Amos
      • Windows better than anything else

        But of course. How could it not be?

        With all the Fairy Dust emanating from the new Windows 8 kernel, that is.
      • Not quite

        For it to be "better" than ANY Android operating system, it is going to have to allow for customization, and the ability to plug the phone into the computer and copy anything you want to it without having to go through Zune, iTunes, or anything else.
        Lacking these things is why I gave away my HTC HD7 windows phone and switched to Android.
        • That's your requirement

          and does not mean it's better or worse than the others, just better for you.
    • Remember When

      Win 95 came out? People would call M$ support number and they would explain their problem. M$'s answer; "It’s not a bug, it’s a feature." Think it will be history repeating itself?