Windows Phone 7 Series Applications

Microsoft must hate developers…that’s what I’m seeing lots of today.  The crux of the issue being that it’s been confirmed that Windows Mobile x (we’ll come to that) applications don’t run on Windows Phone 7 Series devices.  Well I have two words for that “Thank you Microsoft” followed by “thank you, thank you ,thank you,thank you, thank you !”

This folks is a good thing, for everyone, even developers and here’s why:

Developing for mobile is about developing for the use experience

If you think you’re developing something for another reason (other than money and for that see below) then you need your eyes tested!  The user experience for Windows Phone 7 is wildly different from Windows Mobile and different from other platforms.  No one is gonna want that cruddy app that you need a stylus for, no one wants to look at a UI developed in the 90’s that’s evolved like a snail. 

From experience, developing an application for mobile is about getting the user experience right, everything else is limited by what you can do with your finger and a small screen.  Of course it’s not at all limited because there’s such a rich sensor environment going on, but that requires some innovation and that requires stepping back and looking at the big picture.  In Windows Mobile there was a need to build things to a minimum spec and that spec was basically set back in the 90’s.

We have a new spec, a new UI and a new experience and

Customers want a congruent experience

Doesn’t it feel nice when stuff just works together?  We love it when stuff looks like Media Center when we launch it from there, when it behaves in the same, predictable way.  We get cool stuff that pushes us forward like Media Browser but at it’s core it’s still “on message” with the user experience of Media Center.  It’s the same with iPhone, buttons look similar between apps and everything looks nice.  Hey it’s the same with books, they look slightly different – that’s down the editor and designer and writer – but they have the same basic way of working.

Windows Mobile lost it.  Sense UI on a HD2 is lovely, really cool, until you drop back to Windows Mobile.  Then it feels disjointed.  This cannot be allowed with Windows Phone 7 Series or it’s bye bye.

Microsoft wants tons of developers

And it’s not doing anything to push them away, other than say, “go do it better” and that’s what customers want.  Microsoft has the best developer community on the planet!  They offer a true, multi-dimensional platform that covers everything you need using a set of core principles that transcends the tools, the language and by extension most barriers to entry into the platform.

Tons of developers = tons of ideas = tons of innovation = cool stuff!

Customers and Microsoft want innovation

I left Windows Mobile because the developers did – at least the ones that matter did.  All the cool stuff went to iPhone…it’s now beginning to go to Android.  They were new platforms.  The cool dev’s will be back because those other areas now have millions of apps and

Developers want to make money

Or they want fame, they want kudos, recognition something – I wanted eyeballs.  By operating in saturated markets (iPhone, Android soon) new developers don’t really get a look in…you need to start with a business plan and then an idea to make money there now.  Don’t get me wrong, people do still make it, but it’s hard.  For a while Windows Phone 7 Series apps will be easy pickings. 

Yes that will deliver some dross – wobbly boobies apps probably – but hey at least it’s using the accelerometer and who’s to say that the student who develops it won’t take it into an app at that makes your driving safer (idea there if someone wants to run with it).  The real question though is one that’s been bugging me for a while.

Who do you trust?

There have been cases of phishing apps in the Android market place.  Their open model isn’t working there.  Apple actually have this right, and it annoys developers massively.  They test everything, on an Apple device you can be 90% sure that the app will work and won’t do something naughty like steal your info.  On Windows Mobile right now you can’t.

I could, I won’t and I’ve not, right now write an application that would steal your stuff.  Do I need to access every nook and cranny on your phone to do it?  No.

Windows Phone 7 Series is all about the cloud, like Steve B said yesterday.  As a result your identity is in the cloud, all I need is to write an application that asks for your Facebook username and password, or your Twitter username and password, or something and then sends it back to me.  Simples.  On Windows Mobile anyone could just get it and install the CAB file.  They’d have to trust where they got it from, and frankly some are good and some are bad sources.

Trust is absent, it needs to come back.

Epilogue

So do you still think not being able to use TwitterMyFlicker on your Windows Phone 7 Series phone is a bad thing?  I don’t.  Giving developers a fresh start, a new competitive field where they can innovate and be damned is critical here.  Giving customers the best experience is critical to the developer experience and I’m gonna embrace this new challenge…when I find the time.

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