Well, this is a bit disappointing. With the Windows Phone 8 launch bearing down on us like a freight train, enthusiasts and programmers have been waiting for the promised summer release of the Windows Phone 8 SDK, which will allow developers to create apps that target this new platform. Today, Microsoft announced that this SDK would ship on September 12. But it will only be made available to select, first-tier developers.
For potential customers of Windows Phone 8 handsets, this means that the first round of Windows Phone 8 specific apps—remember, these devices will run all 100,000+ existing Windows Phone 7.5 apps too—will be limited to a very small selection. On the good news front, that small selection of new native WinPRT apps should be of very high quality, since no looky-loos are being invited to write Windows Phone 8 apps quite yet.
Here’s how Microsoft explains this situation.
“The full Windows Phone 8 SDK will be made publically available later this year when we unveil Windows Phone 8,” Microsoft’s Todd Brix writes in a post to the Windows Phone Developer Blog. “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.”
Put another way, “established” developers currently have access to the SDK and they are purportedly hard at work making new Windows Phone 8 apps that take advantage of unique new features of that platform. Anyone who has published an app on the Windows Phone Marketplace—soon to be renamed to Windows Phone Store—will be able to apply to access the Windows Phone 8 SDK on September 12. And I guess Microsoft will decide whether you get it or not. If not, you have to wait until Windows Phone 8 launches on October 29.
This at least answers some questions I had about timing, since it seems odd that Microsoft wouldn’t give developers a lot of time to create new Windows Phone 8 apps. But it looks like the software giant has chosen quality over quantity for the launch. Good decision? Maybe. There’s certainly enough crap in the Marketplace to last a lifetime.
But on the flipside—yes, there’s always a flipside—this move specifically leaves enthusiast and amateur developers in the dark. And when you combine this with the comparatively more complex and professional WinPRT APIs—which are not nearly as simple as the Windows Phone 7.x Silverlight APIs—I see a situation that resembles the move from Visual Basic 6 to VB. NET years ago: Microsoft could be abandoning the less professional developers in a bid to make the entire platform more professional.
So some good, some bad.