Microsoft is offering resources and what it calls co-funding to developers in an effort to persuade them to create apps for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's upcoming smartphone operating system reset.
Microsoft is offering cash and other resources to developers
in hopes of enticing them to build applications for its upcoming Windows Phone
7, according to online reports.
"We are investing heavily in the developer community by offering as many
resources as we can to help them be successful on our platform," a
Microsoft spokesperson wrote to eWEEK on July 14, seeming to support the
reports' veracity. "Where it makes sense we do co-fund strategic projects
on a limited basis."
Windows Phone 7 aggregates Web content and applications into
subject-specific Hubs such as Office or Games. When released near the end of
2010, the operating system will be paired with a Windows Phone Marketplace, to
which developers will be able to submit five free applications (rising to
$19.99 after that) along with an unlimited number of paid applications.
In a July 14 article, Bloomberg
quoted Todd Brix,
a senior director at Microsoft, as indicating that the
company would devote whatever resources were necessary to draw developers into
the fold: "We are investing a lot to attract developers big and small to
Windows Phone 7 to let them understand what the opportunity is and provide as
many resources as we can to help them be successful on our platform," he
In addition to resource allocation, Microsoft has taken pains to sketch out
the parameters of its upcoming mobile applications store for developers. During
its TechEd conference in June, Microsoft issued a document on its Windows Phone for Developers Website
its content policies. Inevitably, the company will ban applications that are
libelous, slanderous, threatening or discriminatory, as well as those that
promote hate speech, the use of illegal drugs and excessive alcohol
consumption, and violence.
The question of what constitutes an acceptable application has bedeviled
Apple's popular App Store on occasion over the past few months, with the
company removing applications only to reinstate them after a groundswell of
protest from users; in addition, some developers have questioned why their
applications with borderline-explicit content were pulled from the store, while
applications with similar content that were created by major corporations were
allowed to remain in place.
Microsoft seems to be taking a lesson from Apple's difficulties.
"Philosophically our approach with Marketplace is in line with what's
existed for Windows Phone traditionally, and for Windows Mobile 6.5,"
Casey McGee, a spokesperson for Microsoft, told eWEEK in a July 13 interview at
the company's Worldwide Partner Conference. "What we've sought to do with
Windows Phone is be very transparent-here are what the fees are going to look
like, etc., and here are the guidelines."
For any controversial applications, McGee said, Microsoft will attempt to
make its decision-making process as see-through as possible: "There's a
lot of subjectivity in the guidelines, and there will be judgment calls, but
there will be an attempt to be consistent."
Microsoft's share of the smartphone operating system market has been
gradually shrinking over the past several quarters, increasing the pressure on
Windows Phone 7 to be a hit-something that depends on its various software and
hardware components working
as perfectly as possible from the outset.
"All the stuff has to work pretty well, it has to be quick, it has to
be stable," McGee said. "We need to launch with a Marketplace that
shows we have a variety of applications that can be used on a daily basis."
A notable portion of WPC, running from
July 11 to 15 in Washington, has
focused on Windows Phone 7.
"The phone is going through a massive inflection point," Andy
Lees, senior vice president of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business, told an audience gathered in the Verizon Center July 13.
"There's this immense competition, but in many respects, things are just
Microsoft's strategy behind Windows
he added, centers on three tenets: smart design, integrated
experiences and an optimized ecosystem. "The problem is that smartphones
are just app launchers; they're a grid of icons," Lees said. "We
figured there's got to be a better way than going app by app by app, so two
years ago we fundamentally reset our strategy."
On the same day, Microsoft
released Windows Phone Developer Tools Beta.
"The term 'beta' is understood to mean that things are close to
finished," Brandon Watson, Microsoft's director of developer experience
for Windows Phone 7, wrote July 12 on The
Windows Phone Developer Blog.
"It's time to get serious about building
the actual apps and games for Windows Phone 7 that consumers will be looking
for starting this holiday season."
And in Microsoft's view, if that takes a little co-funding, so be it.