Developers shun Microsoft’s Surface

Despite offering more lucrative revenue splits for app developers than competitors Google and Apple, many of the largest digital media properties in the U.S. and makers of the most-popular tablet apps have decided that developing apps for the Surface — and the Windows app store in general — is not yet worth their time.

Developers are key to the success of any platform.



  • jeremy
    • Mother Hydra

      Thank you kind sir!

    • JohnDoey

      At the same time as Ballmer was doing that, Steve Jobs was calmly saying “products” over and over again.

  • JohnDoey

    It goes back to the 6 years when Windows XP was Microsoft’s cutting-edge technology. That killed Microsoft’s developer base in 3 ways:

    • developers bolted to the Intel Mac in 2006, not just because it was great in an of itself, but also because they were essentially bored by 5 years of XP, and Intel Mac took the whole high-end ($999 and up) PC market because XP was simply not competitive

    • users got stuck in 2001 and there has only been a market for Windows apps that run on XP or better — Windows 7 only just passed Windows XP in installed base, 10 years later — so there is no opportunity to build or use cutting-edge apps with new technologies

    • when mobile/ARM finally got its fuse lit by iPhone in 2007, PC software developers only had to download the iPhone SDK to their Macs to get into mobile, and with 6 million iPhone sold before App Store even launched, Apple got critical mass for their next-generation mobile developer platform

    Basically, a lot of things changed in computing between 2005–2010 but Microsoft missed them all because they were still delivering Windows 2003 in 2009 (Longhorn failed in development, Vista failed in the market, 7 finally was the successor to XP.)

    I live in San Francisco and I don’t know anyone here or in Silicon Valley that even owns a Microsoft Windows system that they could use to make Windows apps. The developers who make consumer-focused apps for Web and mobile are all Mac users. Even Android developers, who typically are Java developers.

    What Microsoft is asking from developers is very much like what Apple asked developers to do in 1997 with “Rhapsody” which was essentially the NeXT OS running on Mac hardware — not a Mac. They said to developers who were just coming off Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 that they should invest in new hardware, new system, new developer tools, new API, and after years of work, maybe Apple succeeds in replicating the success of Mac OS with this new system or not. It was too much to ask. Apple has to ultimately support the Mac API on the NeXT system, which was Mac OS X. Microsoft may end up supporting the Win32 API in Windows Store and Windows RT — that would be similar.

    The thing is, the Windows PC community is essentially the iPad community. You want a Mac, but you only want to spend $500, and you don’t necessarily need the video editor or the music and audio tools. If Apple had shipped a $500 Mac in 1990, there would never have been a Windows 3, the first successful Windows. Windows was 100% about running Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PageMaker (Mac apps) on cheaper systems than what Scully’s Apple was selling. So now that the cheap-Mac community has an iPad, it is very hard to see what might make Windows (cheap Mac OS) relevant again. iOS is the cheap Mac OS that fits all business needs now.

    So it is like Microsoft is trying to rally developers and users to a future Microsoft iPad, but the users have to pay 2–3 times the cost of an iPad, and developers have to also pay that for hardware, plus Windows 8 and developer tools, training with new API’s — these are huge obstacles when iOS development is in full swing, high demand, and lots of money being spent right now by users. Huge obstacles in the way of a new generation touch app platform for Microsoft. Touch app developers are getting paid much more to make iOS apps.