Microsoft Windows Phone's Brandon Watson Leaves for Amazon

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2012-02-06 Print this article Print

Microsoft's senior director of Windows Phone development Brandon Watson has left to work on Amazon's Kindle platform. How that affects Windows Phone remains to be seen.

Brandon Watson, senior director of Windows Phone development at Microsoft, has left to take a new job as director of Amazon€™s Kindle Cross Platform team.

€œThe rumors are true,€ Watson wrote in a Twitter posting Feb. 3. €œThe team is in great hands. I€™ll miss working on #wpdev. I will the community, but won€™t be a stranger.€

In an email to ZDNet€™s Mary Jo Foley, he described the decision to leave as €œhard,€ adding that €œthe opportunity placed in front of me €¦ was too big to pass up.€

Watson€™s departure comes at an auspicious time. Microsoft has launched a renewed push for Windows Phone, centered on the Mango software update and new devices from Nokia and other manufacturers. The platform has so far struggled for adoption in the broader smartphone marketplace, trailing Google, Apple and RIM.

Data from research firm Nielsen suggests that Microsoft owned 7.3 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in the third quarter of 2011, down from 9 percent earlier in the year; much of that decline was due to users abandoning the antiquated Windows Mobile platform, something that Microsoft executives say they anticipated.

While Microsoft regularly declines to provide Windows Phone sales figures, CEO Steve Ballmer described the platform€™s market share as €œvery small€ during a July 11 keynote speech at the company€™s Worldwide Partner Conference.

In addition, rumors have started bubbling about Windows Phone 8. According to the blog (and later confirmed in parts by Paul Thurrott, on his Supersite for Windows), the upcoming platform will support multicore processors and native BitLocker encryption, and integrate in many ways with the upcoming Windows 8. (Pocketnow claimed its information came from a Microsoft-produced video meant for Nokia executives, and hosted by Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore.)

Pocketnow paraphrases Belfiore as saying that Windows Phone 8 will €œuse many of the same components of Windows 8€ and that areas of heavy overlap include €œkernel, networking stacks, security, and multimedia support.€ Developers will apparently have the ability to reuse massive chunks of code when €œporting an app from desktop to phone.€

In his own Feb. 2 posting, Thurrott suggested that Windows Phone 8 €œwill be based on the Windows 8 kernel and not on Windows CE as are current versions.€ Nonetheless, apps developed for Windows Phone Mango (the current version) will apparently continue to play well on the upgraded platform.

However Windows Phone evolves, it€™ll have to do so without Watson, who was an energetic advocate for the platform.

Follow Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter 


Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel