Hostility Towards Windows Phone 7 (and a hopeful message…)

Last night, I had an opportunity to attend a cool event here in Columbus, OH called Mobile Monday.  At least, I thought it was going to be cool.  In my mind, I was attending an event that would be bringing the great minds of the mobile industry in Columbus to one location, where we could network, talk about apps we were working on, and generally have a spirit of openness, regardless of platform.  What I encountered instead was an almost poisonous hostility towards my affiliation with Microsoft, and a childlike mocking (insert a Nelson Muntz finger pointing and “Ha, ha!” here.) of my belief that Windows Phone 7 will see any success whatsoever.

To be completely honest, I was disappointed.  Not in the event, mind you, the event was great.  Free food, loads of people, and tons of phones (one guy had 7 working phones, with usage plans!)

I have a complete respect for the iPhone and Android devices.  I’m in awe of what people are capable of making them do.  They are absolutely great platforms for writing new software.  They are the reason that Microsoft has been working so hard to right the ship that was Windows Mobile.  We’ve admitted our shortcomings there, and have gone back to the drawing board.  Windows Phone 7 is our response to that criticism.

So I reach out to you, dear reader, to ask a question.  What do you think of Windows Phone 7?  I’m not asking if you’ll get one (though I’m curious), but have you investigated it?  Have you looked at how easy it is to build an app?  Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

I am a software developer.  Not only do I write code while at work, but I write it when I’m not at work too.  I’m currently spending my free time writing apps for this new phone platform.  It has absolutely nothing to do with my affiliation with Microsoft.  It has everything to do with opportunity.

Imagine back a few years to when the iPhone came out.  Imagine that Apple had made a bold announcement that the App Store will be available in 6 months, and this concept is going to be HUGE.  You’ll be able to sell an application for a dollar, and sell millions of them (even if all they do is fart.)  Would you have built an application?  Just on the chance it could pay off big?  I would have.

But they didn’t make that announcement, and it has taken some companies and developers 3+ years to realize that this platform abounds in opportunity.  Android’s only been out for 18 months, and there’s still people that feel iPhone is the only platform they care to develop for.

Windows Phone 7 presents you with that opportunity.  It presents an environment where you KNOW people are going to buy these phones, and you know people are going to be super-hungry for cool apps to put on those phones.  I am in the process of writing 4 different apps for this platform.  I’m going to have them in the Marketplace on the day it launches.  And when people start using their brand-new phones, it MY apps that they’re going to buy.

What’s holding you back?

If I’ve sparked your interest about this stuff, download the free tools at  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get started.

23 thoughts on “Hostility Towards Windows Phone 7 (and a hopeful message…)

  1. I’m glad to see Microsoft is listening, but I’m still hoping that they’ll somehow avoid the "walled garden" that is the Apple app store. One of the reasons I refuse to give Apple any of my money is their tight grip over what they will and won’t allow consumers to do with their phones. If I’ve paid several hundred dollars for a phone, then I should be able to do whatever I want with it.

    I’m not saying that the Apple or Microsoft stores should be forced to sell adult apps, emulators, or anything else that would be legally or ethically questionable, they can decide what to sell in their store, but don’t make that the only way to get things onto my phone.

    I’m looking forward to the Windows 7 phones, but if they limit my ability to choose what I can do with it, then I’ll go Android.

  2. Jeff,

    History is our greatest teacher. It is not hard to remember the "gurus" mocking the nascent Windows 95 platform, cursing the early developer tools, resisting the .net framework and generally railing upon the whole Micro$oft platform. Fast forward to today. Most of those gurus still haven’t got a haircut and are working out of their mother’s basement. Let’s face the facts here, the basis of their heckling stems from the fact that although the technology may be flawed, distribution and execution will be exceptional and the platform will win.

    For me when I first saw the platform there was such a fire kindled in me that their gloom cannot extinguish it. This is developer heaven. I don’t have to learn that cryptic ObjectiveC (at least not yet, if mobile goes real well it may be inevitable). This is XAML & C#, what could be more glorious?

    Let me sum it up in Bill Steele’s comment to me. At the mobile firestarter event, they built a tip calculator for iPhone, Android, Win 6.5 & Win 7. iPhone & Android took 1 1/4 hours to build. Win 6.5 took an hour. Bill had 30 minutes, build an XNA version in 20 minutes and a Silverlight version in 5 minutes. No further comment necessary.


  3. Hi Jeff,
    I also know quite a few people who just can’t see WP7 making a dent in the market, mainly because of the previous Windows Mobile offerings. It wasn’t so much that WinMo was bad, but the fact that it was focused more on enterprise, than consumers, a lot of non-techies have a negative view because they compare the old WinMo platform with the current iPhone/Android offerings. I think breaking away from the ‘WinMo’ brand and associating it with the well received Win7 OS was a great first step in breaking away from any previous conceptions.

    Compared to the Android, I find the SDK quite limiting at the moment. However, WP7 is a long term project and so more features will be coming in over time. I guess this is a trade off decision developers have to make. I love the freedom Android offers as a developer as I can change pretty much anything. Having said that, from a developer perspective, I personally believe there’s real opportunity here .

    On the flip side, if other developer’s are going to let their ‘fanboy’ view get in way of analytically deciding whether it’s a platform worth creating apps for, there’s more market for me! 😀

  4. Win Phone 7 looks cool and if they were out now I might get one. Unfortunately, my non-smartphone (lg voyager) is busted and barely works anymore to make calls and send txt messages. I’ll be getting a Motorola X android phone this Thursday when it comes out since I can’t wait.

    but depending on how the the release goes and what the environment looks like with developers and apps my next round of phones i might switch over to windows.

    time will tell.

  5. As an iPhone / Android developer (iPhone being my platform of choice) I take plenty of pot shots at Android and WP7 (its all in fun).

    However, I must admit that in April I went to the Chicago WP7 DevCamp put on by Dave Bost. My business partner and I went in cold… we hadn’t looked at the SDK and we sure as hell didn’t know Silverlight. After 2.5 hours of learning Silverlight and another 2 hours trying to figure out how to style everything, we finally converted one of our iPhone apps to WP7 and took 2nd place in the competition. We spent our winnings on a very nice steak and bottle of wine at the Chophouse.

    We were amazed that we could go from concept to functional app in less than 6 hours on WP7. I did find the SDK to be very limiting when it came to features. With our backend being WCF Rest, I tried to consume it several different ways and in the end had to drop back to HttpWebRequest and Linq to XML. I have a couple of graphic intensive, animation intensive apps that I would like to convert over to WP7, but I want to get my hands on some dev hardware. I have multiple apple devices and google developer phones, but how can I get my hands on a WP7 developer phone?

  6. Are you surprised that fanboys would laugh at you? Don’t be. M$ has been a failure at the mobile well just about everything mechanical outside of the XBox. So they have a ton of odl data to hurl your way.

    Is it easy to make an app for the phone? Don’t have time to consider attempting. Why don’t I fork over the time? Time is worth $$ and I see no real potential revenue stream from M$ releases.

    Sorry but the party was over when droid came rolling out. Conversion from the apple app to droid version is supposed to be minor as compared to a conversion to Win. Translates to massive amount or apps out there and why would you almost dupe one of them?

  7. first off, it sucks that you went through that. Fanboys/anti-fanboys are great for marketing, but not so great for innovation.

    For your WP7 question, I’m more of a consumer than developer on the mobile platform. From that standpoint, I’m not running out to get a Windows phone when it comes out, but to be fair I didn’t run out to get an Android phone, either. I got an iPhone when it was "the" option. I’m happy with my iPhone, but I don’t write apps for it…I kind of like my first born, and don’t feel like turning him over to Apple for the right to write apps on their platform.

    So, I’m intrigued to see what Microsoft brings out and how it compares to the existing platforms. I think they should go after the blackberry market harder than the droid/iphone market to get a hold of all those people already running exchange on the back end.

  8. I think there was a golden opportunity for Windows Mobile a few years ago, but it’s going to face a pretty big uphill battle at this point. You’re right about developer productivity — this has historically made a big difference in attracting developers, and thus, in the availability of applications for a platform. Today, however, MS has to also overcome the attraction of the huge installed bases on these other platforms — developers see these as proven markets. Not coincidentally, Google announced their App Inventor for Android yesterday to address the very issue of developer ease-of-use.

    Microsoft also didn’t do themselves any favors with the "Kin Experiment". This demonstrated to the world that not only is Microsoft still able to release products that consumers don’t want, they’re not afraid to pull the plug on these experiments. I’m sure that mobile developers will watch the success of WinMo 7 carefully in case Microsoft wakes up one day and decides that they’re done with this market altogether.

    Personally, I’d love to see Microsoft come out with world-class development tools that could be used to build apps for multiple platforms. As a developer, if I had an option to use one tool (and one code base) to target WinMo, Android, BlackBerry, and Apple, I’d be a fool not to use that tool. I know there are all sorts of obstacles to that happening, but the productivity potential would be immense.

    I know that it seems like that would be a suicide move for Microsoft (because people could then keep their iPhones and Android phones), but I think a development platform like that would really help level the playing field. Right now, if you buy a WinMo phone (like my HD2), you know right off the bat that most of the apps you want just aren’t available on WinMo. Period. Check out any "best apps" list for iPhone or Android, and try to find equivalent apps for WinMo — you’ll be lucky to score 50%. If a universal development platform helps bring more apps to WinMo, then consumers can start buying WinMo phones because they like the phones better — hopefully.

    You’re absolutely right that there’s an opportunity for developers on this new platform. What remains to be seen is whether this is a niche opportunity or a foothold into a new powerhouse.

  9. What’s holding me back from taking a more in-depth look on WP7 is fear that it will be bungled. Will the OS actually work? Does Microsoft have enough credibility left in the market to attract hardware makers to have some decent WP7 phones? Will they quickly yank it like the KIN?

    WP7 is due in September. We are two months out, and I haven’t heard a [i]peep[/i] about the devices. No one is saying, "hey, this is the awesome WP7 device we will be shipping in September!" Right now, I’m holding onto an Android device that is buggy and annoying, and I am trying to decide if I am going to stick with it until WP7 ships or just dump the phone now. It sure would be helpful to know what my device options are in September.

    Jeff, whoever you know at Microsoft… let them know that they are not just dropping the ball with WP7, they have let the air out of it with a knife and kicked it into the woods. A few months ago, WP7 was a hot topic, now it is already fading away in developers’ minds due to lack of information beyond "here’s the SDK". I want to see WP7 succeed, but Microsoft is bungling it at a non-technical level right now.


  10. I have been working with Silverlight since v1.0, and I’ve been following the WP7 story since it was first announced. The developer story for WP7 phones is exceptional, and if it turns out to be true, there are already thousands of WP7 developers ready to go. The promise of an open, efficient vetting process for new apps marks a happy medium between iPhone’s fascist policies and Android’s "anything goes."

    I have one reservation about the WP7- the standard Metro theme. This is a completely personal, aesthetic thing. The *concept* behind it rocks- highly personal and modular. I’m just not feeling the color scheme. I hope there is more opportunity for personalization so that some of the "sexiness" of the Android home page (I love the old-school clock and backgrounds) comes to WP7.

    Having said all that, I will definitely be writing apps for WP7!!!

  11. Scott,

    Graphics and animation-intensive apps for WP7 are better done in XNA, have you had an opportunity to check that out? Cool thing there is portability to XBOX 😉

  12. I feel that the WP7 team have substituted user experience with a "nice" UI. From the concept videos I’ve seen, the OS appears to be task orientated towards the business user, with tight integration with Microsoft’s products. I don’t see WP7 being a great consumer phone, perhaps it will find its home as a mediocre business phone.

    The UI seems to have a complexity vs. information problem, removing information to try and achieve a simple interface, sometimes more is less. The videos seem to paint a picture of using deep navigation to be able to get to the information the user wants to access, this seems as if it might be a problem for accessing 3rd party apps.

    Microsoft seems to have failed to change the little things, like the standard controls (, which seem to be the same as WinMo 6. There are countless opportunities where WP7 could have redesign the aesthetics of things, but decided not to.

  13. Microsoft has a real opportunity and major challange with WM7. First of all the market surge with iPhone and Android makes getting the WM7 message out extremely difficult (look at Palm and Nokia for examples). Second, WM7 has to stop talking to developers and start talking to the creatives. This is what has hampered Android and is killing Blackberry. Microsoft has to have the best UI experience regardless of what functionality is built or no one will purchase the devices. Developers can write apps all day long, but if no one is using the devices it really won’t matter.

    Now where Andriod and Blackberry are at a complete disadvantage against iPhone, Microsoft may actually have a leg up is in the area of personal entertainment. Playing games on the Blackberry is extremely disappointing (feels like Atari 64 in my opinion), but with the xBox integration (done right) could be what propels MS into a contender especially for certain demographics.

    Remember is not about the development platform (once again ask Nokia and Palm) its about the device first and for most. Based on recent historical data, I hope MS has learned this lesson but I also hope that it is not too late for MS right the ship.

  14. Troy is precisely right, WinPh7 must win in the arena of ascetics; this is the iPhone’s strength. We know MS has nailed the development platform. Now it’s about the designer not the developer. Is my Photoshop designer going to be able to build beautiful and optimized apps in Blend without pulling his hair out? Time will tell.

  15. Being a complete .NET and Microsoft kid from day 1 I’m somewhat excited to begin playing with WP7… but… I have no time. To add to my challenges my employer has started to immerse itself into the Enterprise side of Apple/iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch which has swayed my efforts towards the Apple side of things. I attended the Apple WWDC this year and got a pretty good fire hose feeding in all things XCode & Object-C and I must say that it is a pain in the ass language to learn coming from the .NET world. As much as I would like to tinker with WP7 I don’t even have the time to tinker with the iPhone apps I’d like to create without becoming some sort of deadbeat at home to my wife and kid. With that being said I value sleep enough to not become a late-night zombie, either.

    From the fanboi perspective that door swings both ways, though, you would hope that people attending a "Mobile Monday" demo would at least have the insight to consider other platforms, not just what’s currently popular. Apple natives rip the idea of WP7 because of previous Microsoft failures, Microsoft natives rip the iPhone platform because of the walled garden & objectiveC. The bottom line is that the polarized Microsoft/Apple diehards rip on each other because they either don’t understand what the other side is offering or see the other side as a threat. I’ve seen it play out both ways at conferences here in Columbus from some of the Microsoft representation and I saw it play out in San Francisco at WWDC amongst the (many) Apple developers.

    The last front for this battle from my personal perspective is hardware. I have access to Apple hardware through work but don’t personally own one. WP7 hasn’t even really emerged any development hardware but even if it did unless I had "free" access to it for testing I would only go so far with my efforts as I have no intention to pay for hardware I don’t need other than to tinker – Apple, WP7, or otherwise. +1 to Apple here for me. Feel free to insert some sort of "what a cheapskate" comment here :p

  16. I think Windows [i]Phone[/i] will be a success in the long run. And, I'm willing to share my knowledge of Silverlight to devs who are interested in the platform. In honesty though, I'm not sure Phone 7 (or this first version) will be successful. For my company, Phone 7 will be [i]the[/i] top priority if a developer device is delivered. If a developer device is not sent, we will need to wait to see if we believe that [i]consumers[/i] will buy one (unlike the Kin). That sounds like an ultimatum, but it is not meant to be. The reality is, I am yet to actually play with a prototype device that has really excited me. I understand these have been prototypes, so I wish to reserve full judgement. There are just a bunch of shortcomings that I haven't been able to overlook (no copy-and-paste, no youtube) and concerns in other areas (Internet Explorer, Lists in Silverlight Phone apps don't behave like native lists on the phone itself, etc.) . I look at the things that make WindowsPhone unique and I can't figure out who the target audience for the device is, other than a Microsoft employee (SharePoint and XBox integration on the same device, I know of only a handful of people this is applicable to). That's cool, it's V1. The underpinnings are there to be kick ass in the long run.

    I just think Windows Phone is really far behind at this point. That ground can be made up. The tone of all of the reviews seems to be: this phone is really great compared to Windows Mobile, it's beats Android in some places, lacks in others, but falls short of the iPhone hands-down. That's fine. But I have questions regarding price points. I'm concerned that Microsoft is going to try to sell the devices at the same price point as the iPhone. If that occurs, I just don't see it picking up ground. If Microsoft get's really aggressive with the device pricing, I think that would go a long ways to closing the gap quickly and creating an audience for developers to target. That's what it has to be about, delivering great solutions to people. If the people using this device don't exist, there is no sense in investing the time in this device.

  17. Hi Jeff,

    Sorry to hear you had that experience. It reflects poorly on the people involved.

    It's not disimilar to racism, the worst of reglion and the worst of politics.

    I think these people are afraid Microsoft will succeed.

  18. I personally cannot wait to get my hands on a Windows Phone 7!! I've owned (and loved) an iPhone for 2 years, simply because it was the best phone on the market at the time that I needed one.

    I believe that will all change the day the Windows Phone 7 launches. I could never understand people waiting in line for an iPhone on launch day, but I think I will be camping out for my Windows Phone 7.

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