Brandon Watson, senior director of Windows Phone development at Microsoft, has left to take a new job as director of Amazons Kindle Cross Platform team.
The rumors are true, Watson wrote in a Twitter posting Feb. 3. The team is in great hands. Ill miss working on #wpdev. I will the community, but wont be a stranger.
In an email to ZDNets Mary Jo Foley, he described the decision to leave as hard, adding that the opportunity placed in front of me ¦ was too big to pass up.
Watsons 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 platforms market share as very small during a July 11 keynote speech at the companys Worldwide Partner Conference.
In addition, rumors have started bubbling about Windows Phone 8. According to the blog Pocketnow.com (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 use many of the same components of Windows 8 and that areas of heavy overlap include kernel, networking stacks, security, and multimedia support. Developers will apparently have the ability to reuse massive chunks of code when porting an app from desktop to phone.
In his own Feb. 2 posting, Thurrott suggested that Windows Phone 8 will 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, itll have to do so without Watson, who was an energetic advocate for the platform.