Microsoft really has a lot riding on the success of Windows 8 and the UI formerly known as Metro. So much so that it is offering as much help and encouragement to developers it can think of. In this UK this goes a step further with an offer of winning a meeting with CEO Steve Ballmer.
What do you offer developers to get them to produce apps on your platform?
One possibility is stability: the idea that an app that you have worked on for a while is going to have a long and happy life in an environment of love and support. So it is difficult for Microsoft to make the case for developing for Windows 8, not to mention Windows Phone 8 apps. Not only do we have to start over and re-implement things, but there is no certainty that the new systems will be sufficiently successful to provide a payback for the effort.
Microsoft is doing its very best to convince programmers that, not only is WinRT and the new UI that they no longer call Metro exciting, but that it is the environment you really want to be working in.
There are some aspects of this idea that are true. WinRT is quite fun and it's always exciting to work on new APIs, but it really isn't enough to offset the loss of the familiar methods and practices.
Microsoft has made it easy to get the operating system and the tools you need to build apps. You can even get a 90-day developers trial edition and install Visual Studio Express to create a free development environment - all that you risk is your time and effort.
Microsoft has also put out a few fairly hype-ridden blog posts such as:
Hey, Developers: ‘Start Building’ for Windows 8 and the Microsoft Platform
containing misleading statements like:
With the number of people running Windows north of 1.3 billion, Microsoft offers developers who choose to build apps for Windows 8 worldwide reach. Now that it has been released to manufacturing and the Windows Store is open for business, the message for developers is simple, Somasegar says: “Start building.”
Yes, Windows may still be the number one desktop operating system, but how many machines will be running Windows 8 in the near future is a matter for a crystal ball.
For reasons that aren't immediately obvious, the latest round in the "encourage developers" war is being waged with a UK-specific website. A new Windows 8 developers portal is a good idea, but why as part of MSDN UK?
It says that you start by downloading everything, then you set aside some of your summer vacation to go over some training material and attend a 1-day DevCamp or App Clinic. Now I don't know about you. but there is something threatening about the choice of these names. "DevCamp" bit too close to "death camp", and who could be keen on "clinic". However, the idea is that you can get some, almost 1:1, tuition for free.
If you have an app almost ready to publish, you are invited to the Windows 8 App Excellence Lab.
"This two hour one-to-one session with a trained Microsoft Engineer will accelerate your time to completion. The App Excellence Lab is an incredibly valuable resource for you to:
Test your app on touch hardware to make sure it’s perfect when you submit.
Receive constructive feedback on your project to date and get recommendations on making it even better!
Learn about gaining access to the Store and a head start in publishing your app."
What can one say - a free two-hour personal session. Will this be extended to a worldwide program?
Then there is the enticement of the Launch Publishers Program. If you submit an app before the launch, then all sorts of goodies are on offer including:
- Exclusive Welcome Pack
- Windows 8 Launch Party
- Rewards for publishing multiple apps that showcase the best of Windows 8
- Showcase on technical channels to promote your and gain Kudos amongst your Developer Peers
- Invitation to exclusive networking events featuring industry leading speakers (i.e. ignite series of events).
Personally none of these would tip the balance for me to put the effort into creating an app if I hadn't already decided that it was a good idea based on sound logic. The final enticement is bizarre to say the least....
An opportunity for a small group of Launch Publishers to win an opportunity to meet Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, when he visits the UK later this year
The only reason I can think that a dev might want to meet Mr Ballmer is to kick his shins in revenge for the number of technologies he has chosen to dump in a single OS upgrade and for how stability rates fairly low at the new re-imagined Microsoft.