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."
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.