One of the hurdles Microsoft faces in making a success out of Windows Phone 7 Series is winning over the software developers.
Microsoft may be able to establish consistency with regards to the WP7S hardware but if you don't have functional software to put on the phone, it won't survive for long. To do so, Microsoft needs to garner the support of developers, large and small. Microsoft's willingness to tackle the fragmentation that Windows phones has historically possessed is a step in the right direction but there's still plenty of work needed to be done.
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I like the goal of having a standardized or core set of specifications with the Windows Phone 7 Series. It will also be nice for there to be consistency with the software that the WP7S phones will be running. There is a certain amount of appeal to be able to go from a Samsung WP7S phone to a LG WP7S phone to an HTC WP7S phone and have the same software environment running. I can see where that consistency will be equally appealing with developers.
Wired.com polled several mobile developers and discovered a mix of reactions to Microsoft's new OS.
Kai Yu, CEO of BeeJive, has long since written off Windows Mobile and doesn't think the challenges for developers will go away with WP7S. Yu left little to the imagination on how he feels about the Windows Mobile environment. "I think it’s just royally f**d. That place is so big: The tools, the people, it’s all so fragmented…. What’s the advantage of having these hubs and cool-looking UI? In the end, I don’t know if that gives you anything.”
Peter Hoddie, CEO of Kinoma, made no bones about it saying, "They've (Microsoft) been doing such a miserable job for a while now. I would be thrilled if they could turn it all around and tell a story that makes sense, but they have a long way to go." As Wired.com points out, Microsoft understands the importance of developer support with their desktop products but falls short for some reason in the mobile industry. In reading the reactions of the developers it appears the historic fragmentation (software and hardware) of the mobile environment may be the cause.
David Castelnuovo, an independent developer of iPhone Apps stated, "Fragmentation ends up making development more expensive. Microsoft is trying to solve some of that by being a little more hands-on…. They all have multi-touch and the same three buttons, but the problem is I don’t know what kind of other options there are.”
Microsoft will be presenting WP7S's development tools at it's MIX developer's conference later this month. There will be a lot of interest in what Microsoft presents not only with regards to developers information but we are also expecting more light to be cast on the hardware specs of WP7S. Microsoft will need to at least equal the energy their Mobile World Congress WP7S presentation created to keep the momentum going by gaining developer support.
We're also curious if any more revelations will be announced concerning the future of Windows Mobile 6.5. The other day, Microsoft's Investor Relations Manager, Bill Koefoed, told Forbes that Microsoft is preparing to invest a billion dollars in Windows Mobile research and development. Which presents the question, where is Windows Mobile headed?
Can Microsoft win over the developers enough to give WP7S a fighting chance? Will the commitment Microsoft is making with Windows Mobile 6.5 fragment the developing community or spread the resources to make both systems successful? One thing is for certain, Microsoft's movements with regards to the Windows Phone has definitely generated a lot of questions. Questions that hopefully will be answered at MIX10.