Microsoft annoys developers with Windows Phone 8 secrecy

The company is accepting requests for the Windows Phone 8 software development kit (SDK), but only from a select few. The rest will have to wait, as Microsoft is trying to keep some of the OS's features secret for now.

Microsoft is preparing to release the software development kit for Windows Phone 8 — but only to a select group of developers.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Windows Marketplace chief Todd Brix said Microsoft was starting to accept requests for access to the SDK, which lets app creators tailor their products to the upcoming version of the Windows Phone OS.

Nokia Lumia 820
Microsoft is trying to keep some features of its Windows Phone 8 OS a secret, not letting people get hands-on with the new Nokia Lumia phones. Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

However, only the "developers of [the Marketplace's] most-downloaded apps" will get in early, Brix said. As for the rest, they will only get access at the launch of Windows Phone 8 because Microsoft is trying to keep some of the OS's features secret.

That apparent need for secrecy also lies behind the refusal of Nokia to let journalists get hands-on with its upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices, including the Lumia 920 . I encountered this problem first hand when Nokia smartphone chief Jo Harlow showed me her 920 at a recent Qualcomm event, but refused to pass it over lest I see some of the unannounced features of the operating system.

As Brix put it in his blog post, Microsoft is trying to whip up excitement around the OS.

"We recognise that this is a different approach to delivering tools than we've taken in the past," he said. "Our goal is to generate as much Windows Phone 8 excitement as possible to attract new customers when phones go on sale. This is one of many steps we're taking to help give you what you (and we) want most."

Developer reaction

The developers who responded in the post's comments section were deeply unimpressed at what one termed Microsoft's "cruel joke".

"When your platform is so far behind, you can't turn away devs" — 'ishaih'

"If you're only going to give access to apps with lots of downloads, just contact them directly, much better than rejecting interested devs," 'ishaih' wrote. "When your platform is so far behind, you can't turn away devs."

One developer pointed out that, if some get access, the SDK will probably be leaked online anyway. Another complained that many developers will have paid to renew their MSDN licences specifically so they could get early access to the SDK and have their apps ready for the Windows Phone 8 launch.

"I can't say enough how disappointing this is," 'WinPhoneDev' wrote. "Microsoft's own experience should tell it this is a terrible idea. What happens when MS focuses on engineering and communication? Windows 7. What happens when they let marketers drive decision making? Vista."

"Oh well. Guess I'll go back to focusing on Android," WinPhoneDev added.