Brandon Watson, Director of developer experience for Windows Phone, leaving Microsoft

We're getting word in that Brandon Watson, no stranger around here at WPCentral, will be leaving Redmond for greener pastures.  In a recent Tweet he made (and a confirmation we received), he notes:

"The rumors are true. The team is in great hands. I'll miss working on #wpdev. I will the community, but won't be a stranger."

In a way, this should not be a surprise as his old Twitter profile even proclaimed "Entrepreneur on loan to Microsoft focused on getting our developer mojo back." That statement already read to us that this was a temporary job for him with a finite mission, one that looks to have finally succeeded.

No doubt, he'll leave quite a hole to fill as Watson had quite the presence in getting Windows Phone back on the map, working tirelessly to get the recognition it deserved and making devs happy.

Update: Watson is leaving for Amazon. In an email to ZDnet he mentions he'll be taking on the responsibility as Director of the Kindle Cross Platform team and “it was a hard decision, but the opportunity placed in front of me that was too big to pass up.”


Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • He's off to Amazon to work on the Kindle team :
  • Well, he's done a great job doing what he was hired in to do.  So best of luck to him, and I hope he stays a fan!
  • Agreed.
  • To bad, he did a great job spreading the word about windows phone
  • He will be missed
  • Leaves a big void. Hopefully Microsoft finds a good replacement.
  • If it's for his future, good luck
  • Well Done Brandon - great effort at MS with the Dev Evangelist platform. So is Ben getting his gig?
  • Yeah, I wonder who's taking over?
  • MWC is gonna be interesting, alot of good people have now left the WP team. With the switch to the Win8 kernal I wonder if Paul Thurrot was correct when he suggested the development environment was changing again. If this is the case it will only piss off developers, sure there will be compatiablity but that's not the point. They had to relearn from Windows Mobile to WP7 and by the looks of it relearn again for WP8. All points to MS slowly killing Silverlight.
    Also alot of uncertainty about whether current devices will see the next major update too, makes buying any device now alot harder decision.
  • Have to agree. I can't wait for MWC to find out what's going on. Nobody should buy a WP until after MWC.
  • I'm not waiting. The current platform is great and worthy of current/extended customer purchases.
  • Agreed! In fact I already bought my first WP7 phone by way of HTC Radar - and I love it! I regret not going WP earlier but heard so many negative blogs and comments about it I was scared to jump right in! I don't know what I was thinking because it's so smooth, responsive, and intuitive!
  • ehmmm if Windows Phone 8 will run the CURRENT 60k apps.  why would developers have to relearn? do you think if windows phone will still run current apps microsoft will force people to learn and then reject any app that comes from current developing platform? NO. reuse of code its if people make a Metro style App for windows 8 and they want a windows phone app, but its not like every developer will have to learn, if not why making it compatible with current apps if that code will be obsolete?.... and seriously, do you think Nokia will accept that their amazing nokia lumia 800 and 900 and 710 and whatever number that comes in this year wont be upgradable? if they are lowering hardware requirements why current devices wont be upgradable?.. its silly to think nokia will want to develop windows phones if people will be mad about thier amazing nokia lumia 900 not being upgradable even though its a new device...
  • Yes and No, depends how the compatibiltiy works in WP8, lets hope they dont have to relearn, but if MS do kill silverlight then they will have to eventually learn WinRT to code apps on the phone.
    I would like to think phones will get updated but I have been burnt by Nokia before so I will be holding off buying any WP device till after MWC.
  • Is WinRT really all that different than .NET?  I got the impression that most of the classes and functions were very similar.  So someone that already knows .NET should have an easy time moving to WinRT.
    I also imagine that the current Silverlight dev tools will end up with WinRT versions.  So it feels close to the same.
    Not sure though.
  • WinRT is essentially 90% Silverlight already (although somewhat restructured and improved), especially when used with C#. I'm a .NET/WP7 developer and I felt at home with it within an hour of installing developer preview. This is non-issue!
    Generally I think WP8 will run WP7 apps unmodified with Mango APIs + it will support new WinRT apps with phone-specific libraries which will make it very close to current Mango platform to minimize porting effect.
  • I agree I bought a Nokia 710 for the wife but I'm not going to trade my hd7 in just yet why go and buy a device that may not be compatible in the fall..also all this integration wp8 win8 should have been on wp7 and win7. right out of box.
  • Kill all that speculation! This isn't Android. Go get your 900, and don't worry it will upgrade to 8. Now if first generation don't upgrade that would be understandable. If they do then WP truly is the best.
  • MS needs to just put out a statement to address this once and for all. It's hurting already dismal sales of mango devices! Reports are still showing WP losing ground in sales and market share. Nokia is still hemorrhaging cash. They need to put the rumors to rest if they want sales to pick up before Q4. The only logical reason to remain silent is if the rumors are true, in which case it will be a disaster.
  • I'd almost bet money Kindle will be a featured app when Win 8/WP8 arrive in the scene. Meanwhile B&N will continue to screw themselves by thinking their existing Nook for Windows desktop-only application will be good enough.
  • Right?! How convenient would it be for the Kindle stuff to get better acquainted with Windows Phone..? It would just be great for both parties... =P
  • I'd almost bet money Kindle will be a featured app when Win 8/WP8 arrive in the scene. Meanwhile B&N will continue to screw themselves by thinking their existing Nook for Windows desktop-only application will be good enough.
  • so basically he chose android over windowsphone. I'll have to ask him about that if I see him around south lake union.
  • He didn't choose android, he is heading up the cross platform division of the kindle.
  • He essentially chose everything BUT Android ;-)
  • Very sad news, wish him the best at Amazon, I'm sure it was the right decision for his career :)
  • we lost shawn hargreaves, now brandon watson... this all seems like a very bad omen =/
  • Shawn didn't leave- he moved from XNA to Windows Phone.
  • Geez, guys! Why does the sky have be falling? All this means is, that he is moving on. Don't read too much into it. WP7 Wii be just fine.
  • Microsoft's Stephen Toulouse, the Xbox LIVE's vocal policy and enforcement director, announced today on his blog thatd he would be leaving also doesn't really have much to do with WP but ive noticed alot of Microsoft employees leaving lately maybe they will give me a job now haha :D
  • What?! Stepto is leaving too? That's funny, I was thinking the same thing! Maybe I can get a job there!
  • Actually their's potentially good news here. Think Kindle Fire running W8 ..... hmmmm. So MS rolls their Zune video/music ecosystmen into Amazon in exchange Amazon moves from Crapdroid to W8. That would be a nice win/win. Or better yet win8/win8.
  • Now that would be nice wouldn't it? 
    Though I don't see that happening in the near future.  If it does, I'm sure we'll hear a bunch of stuff about how Brandon was a plant by Microsoft.
  • I like that theory! W8 on a Kindle...that would be a game changer if the OS could be OEM branded, but not deeply customizable. We don't want fragmentation.
  • I agree that fragmentation is bad, but I think there is a way around that. With Amazon being "the store" on every W8 tablet you could negotiate away the skinning. So Amazon doesn't need to skin the kindle because every w8 tablet would by defaut use Amazon for video/audio fulfillment. And MS has a winning tablet out of the gate. It's a gamble on both sides but it could work out nicely. And did anyone else notice the server side "silk" technology in the WP8 leak yesterday?
  • im wondering if this going to be something like Steven Elop movement to Nokia
  • I appreciate what he's done for the Windows Phone platform. I wish Brandon Watson well in his future career endeavors.
  • Hey Brandon... The first day at work please kick the butts on those responsible for me not getting access to the Kindle app in Sweden. It really sucks because I have the reader on my computer and have bought some books which I can't read on my wp7! God luck on Amazon!
  • Next, Amazon announces Windows 8 tablets?
  • It would be nice, but Amazon is already taking losses with their tablet. Can you imagine what adding Win 8 would do to it. Besides I'd like to see a Nokia/MS tablet. Like the 900 but bigger.
  • Did you...get...the memo? You see it's just that these reports of the selling a couple of million Fire tablets...juuuust might make that statement...a bit premature...yeeaaahhh. B '/
  • Kindle could be built in to win8 devices. And is just an app for all other os's
  • As long as we see a Kindle with Windows 8 when it launches... GOOD LUCK!!! :D
  • Peace BW!
  • Nope, here's the translation: "Microsoft has decided to all-but-abandon Windows Phone as it exists and just port Windows 8 to the phone, so there's no point in me leading development of a device which will no longer have the OS we all tirelessly gave birth to."
    This is quite sad.  But, I can't blame Brandon.
  • Oh come on. We already know that isn't true.
  • Not even somewhat close to being in the neighborhood of accurate.
  • Sad to see him go but I like Amazon also sobest of luck to him. 
  • Microsoft really needs to stop this high-level bleeding. I've lost count over how many executive level personell they've lost over just the last 3-5 years alone. So much talent they've grown and fostered in house and they have a real problem keeping them.
    That may not be what happened exactly in Brandon Watson's case specifically, but you can look over the past few years as to just how many they've lost.
  • Hopefully this will bring the WP7 Kindle app on par with the iOS app. I can't read magazines on WP7, whereas I can on iOS.
  • THIS, THIS, A MILLION TIMES, THIS! I don't even care about things like magazines (though they would be nice), but when my screen goes completely blank when I rotate my device, or when I exit out and lose my page, things are NOT in good shape.
    The bloody thing doesn't even support fast resuming.
  • I only care about magazines, because I prefer to read books on my KDT.
    Fast resuming is a must have though too.
  • I think he will.
  • Windows Phone
  • Will my hd7 get upgraded to w8??Good luck Brandon Watson.
  • Good for Brandon. He did a great job with wpdev and provided a good example of how to develop excitement for WP. Can't blame a guy for taking a step up. Don't worry softies, Brandon was once a newbie, there will be other rising stars at MS and many still are at MS.
  • Just get us blasted Amazon app for those of us outside the US
  • I have it in Canada...
  • Hmmmm Microsoft and amazon team re brands Zune the amazon market or something and in turn put WP on the kindle
  • You'll be missed
  • How could you leave us!!! :(