Microsoft pursues WebOS devs, offers free smartphones

Pitches Windows Phone 7 to developers deserted by HP

Taking advantage of Hewlett-Packard's departure from the tablet and smartphone market, Microsoft has offered WebOS developers free smartphones, tools, and training to create apps for its Windows Phone 7 platform.

Brandon Watson, Microsoft's senior director of Windows Phone 7 development, made the offer on Twitter on Friday, and has been fielding queries ever since.

[ Also on InfoWorld: WebOS perishes, leaving no ripples in its wake. | iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android? Whatever handheld you use or manage, turn to InfoWorld for the latest developments. Subscribe to InfoWorld's Mobilize newsletter today. ]

"To Any Published WebOS Devs: We'll give you what you need to be successful on #WindowsPhone, incl. free phones, dev tools, and training, etc.," Watson tweeted a day after HP announced it was dropping WebOS-based tablets and smartphones. Before Friday was out, Watson said he had received more than 500 emails from interested developers, and later, that the count was closing in on 600.

Watson fielded scores of Twitter messages, telling senders to shoot him an email and he would connect developers to a Windows Phone 7 "champion" who would help them out. He also directed developers to the Windows Phone 7 tools site.

Although HP announced last Thursday that it would stop making WebOS-based tablets and smartphones -- including the TouchPad, which was dumped at fire sale prices over the weekend by many retailers -- the company said it would continue development of the WebOS platform, and perhaps license it to other hardware makers.

That wasn't enough to keep WebOS developers from looking to jump ship. "Alrighty then -- I'm excited to get started in porting over apps. #HP #TouchPad #WebOS fiasco this weekend is the last straw," tweeted someone identified as "Porsche Heritage," whose Twitter account linked to a Facebook page about classic Porsche sports cars. "Demonstrate you are serious about #wpdev ... [and] we have phones 4 u," Watson tweeted in a Sunday reply.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Microsoft pursues WebOS devs, offers free smartphones" was originally published by Computerworld .

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