Stack Overflow survey suggests dev interest in Windows Phone is crashing, but what does it mean for Windows 10?

Stack Overflow is one of the biggest and most popular tools for developers and once a year the site conducts a rather large user survey to get the lay of the land.

A few days ago, Stack Overflow posted the results of their 2016 Developer Survey that had 50,000 responses from 173 countries. The results are always interesting for all categories, but at least for Windows Phone things are nosediving.

Some of the highlights from their write-up are sobering:

  • 0.1% of respondents consider themselves Windows Phone Mobile Developers (only 59 respondents)
  • By gender, 0.0% Windows Phone developers are female
  • Under 'Trending Tech' on Stack Flow Windows Phone dropped 65.2% (iOS +3.1%, Android +2%)
  • By next year's survey, fewer than 50% of developers may be using Windows (26.2% are on Mac OS X)
  • Mobile Developers, who know the iOS ecosystem, seem to earn about $10,000 more on average than Android Developers

Now, in fairness many developers consider themselves 'cross-platform' and not 'Windows Phone only.' There, around 8.4% of respondents classify themselves as Android, iOS, and Windows Phone cross-platform developers.

Not Windows Phone but Windows 10?

Likewise, developers for just Windows Phone and not, say, Windows 10 as a whole is becoming much rarer both by design and reduced market share. Developers instead can target all of Windows 10 using many languages like C, C++, C#. In that sense, a drop in those aligning themselves as just 'Windows Phone' is expected.

Speaking of, C# is "loved" by 62% of respondents while a full 60% "dread" Objective-C (used primarily for iOS). The C# programming language is also the #5 'Top Tech' on Stack Overflow trailing JavaScript, Java, Android, and Python.

While general interest by developers in Windows Phone specifically is completely tanking, it is not clear what that means for Windows 10 and UWP. Developers no longer need to chase the small Windows Phone audience and instead can make a Windows 10 app for PC using C# (and other languages) and use the UWP to create a Phone version almost as an afterthought.

Still, we have heard from some sources that general interest in UWP, so far, is lower than what Microsoft would like. Perhaps once Xbox and HoloLens are lit up as developer options this summer that will begin to change. For now, all the momentum is still with iOS and Android.

Next week is the 2016 Build conference and it will be fascinating to hear feedback from current Windows developers about the state of Microsoft.

Thanks, kopte3, for the tip!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the 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 watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. 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.