Developers blast Microsoft for limiting Windows Phone 8 Preview

WP8 Preview Program is restricted to published developers, final SDK won't be available until finished OS is unveiled

Microsoft managed to rile up the Windows Phone developer community this week by announcing that the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview Program will only be available on a limited basis to those with published apps and the full SDK won't come out until Windows Phone 8 itself is unveiled later this year.

Windows Phone developers have expressed anger, frustration, and confusion over Microsoft's move, with several accusing the company of neglecting loyal developers. Some have also wondered if these limitations and delays will cost Microsoft in its bid to gain ground on iOS and Android.

In a Windows Blog posting, Microsoft senior director for mobile platform services product management Todd Brix announced that the Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview Program would go live on Wednesday, Sept. 12, but only current Windows Phone developers with published apps will be allowed to apply. "I do want to set your expectations that program access will be limited," he wrote.

"The full Windows Phone 8 SDK will be made publically available later this year when we unveil Windows Phone 8," Brix continued. "Until then, we believe this program offers more published developers a way to explore the SDK and get started on the next wave of amazing Windows Phone apps."

Brix didn't offer much more in the way of detail or explanation. Notably, too, Microsoft has kept Windows Phone 8 close to its vest -- unlike many of its other previous products, such as Windows 8, Exchange, and Office, which were widely released in beta up to a year before final release. One possible explanation: Microsoft is further behind with WP8 than it would care to admit, but the company doesn't want to risk investor and customer ire with the revelation.

Brix's announcement generated plenty of harsh feedback from developers, with several invoking iOS and Android as they criticized Microsoft both for neglecting the developer community and for moving at a glacial place against Apple and Google in the mobile space. Here's a sampling of comments:

"I have been working on a Windows Phone app for 6 months and have held off publishing it to make it an early, full Windows Phone 8 app as I need some of the new functionality. Now you are going to tell me that even though I a registered developer, I will have to wait until the OS is released to have access to the SDK?" wrote Benjamin Rockwell. "I feel like you really don't care about your developers. Everyone I talk to says I should just go to iOS or Android, but I have been faithful, I at least expect the same in return."

"The general availability of the SDK will coincide with the WP8 launch? So there's no chance of getting my app ready by the time the platform first ships? Capital. Thanks for the disappointment, Microsoft. Developers, developers, developers my fanny," wrote Seva Alekseyev.

"I don't want to install Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Studio Express 2010. I don't want dance around fire to make my VS 2010 work in Windows 8.... I'm first WP7 developer in my country, I'm fighting against every iPhone and Android developer to make WP7 a winner. I'm preaching Windows Phone 7 every day in my country. Hell, I'm tired doing this for MS for free.... Why [do] iOS devs get an SDK 3 months earlier from release? I spent money to buy a new laptop, because my Core2Duo doesn't support virtualization," wrote a user with the screen name Arterius.

It remains to be seen how this will affect the release and reception of WP8. Early adopters of the platform will, from day one, no doubt want apps that take advantage of WP8's new features. But that won't happen if developers aren't being given enough tools and time.

This story, "Developers blast Microsoft for limiting Windows Phone 8 Preview," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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