Along with the “king for a day” memo we wrote up last year, we also ran a little exercise with the team at large to get focused on what was really important to developers. First we had the team talk to and read reports of existing Windows mobile, iPhone, and other smartphone developers. We wanted to make sure everyone knew what developers thought of the current mobile app & game platforms and tools.

Then we said to the team

“Pretend you writing a product review for your friends and family. Also pretend it is late 2010 and the new phones with Windows Phone 7 Series are in consumers hands and developers have been building & selling apps & games for a while. Write a fictional review critiquing what we built.”

We actually did this at an “offsite meeting” and had groups of 3-4 people go off for about an hour and report back to the group.  We really wanted to get people thinking about this product the way connected busy people outside of Microsoft would perceive it.

Below are some of the quotes we pulled from those reviews.  We put these in the planning document used by the entire Windows Phone organization, we posted them on the walls, and regularly asked people on the team “Is what you are doing going to help ensure customers or the industry says this…?”

I literally copied and pasted the bulleted list from the internal planning memo (and no, you can’t see the whole thing :-)):

  • Getting started is cheap and easy
    • No developer will complain about tools pricing
    • Downloading and installing the tools is simple and all documentation is in one place
    • The development model is prescriptive and obvious
    • A vibrant and open community is there to help
  • Real money comes in quickly & constantly
    • There’s one place to hawk wares and getting paid is friction-free
    • Developers’ IP and revenue are protected from shady characters
  • Tools and processes provide instant and continuous gratification
    • Individual developers are highly productive; the code-build-test cycle is fast and fun
    • Shipping new versions is quick and easy with seamless marketplace experience
    • Customer feedback is direct & frequent
  • Technology and APIs are well designed and cohesive
    • Managed code means high developer productivity
    • Creating apps consistent with the built-in phone experience is automatic
    • Developers with Silverlight or XNA experience “already know how”
    • It’s great how well it integrates with Live and other cloud services
    • There are 100% solutions to 80% of scenarios; the prescriptive architecture puts development “on rails”
  • It’s easy to build beautiful applications users just love
    • The platform makes it easy to ensure performance, reliability, security, and battery life.
    • The platform encourages high-quality and rejects low.
    • Deployment, upgrades, updates and safe removal are handled by the platform
    • An application that works on one device form-factor works on all others

At MIX next week you will (hopefully!) get all the details you need to see if we’ve accomplished the above. I know I am personally extremely excited to hear what developers have to say about what we’re enabling. Which aspects did we nail?  Where did we come up short? Where do you want us to invest more in the future?

I know you won’t hold back in letting us know.