The Windows Phone platform and Windows Phone devs are both doing great

Jaime Rodriguez
On Windows Phone, Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight and Windows 7

The Windows Phone platform and Windows Phone devs are both doing great

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Yesterday, I saw a few posts, tweets and personal emails from smart, professional developers  who are building great windows phone apps and did not appreciate getting caught in the recent slew of press and marketing exchange around Windows Phone perf.   I am going to share my personal experiences to try to clarify the likely misinterpretation..

The problem/story:
Press goes to marketing (not engineering folks) and tells them “when are you going to fix the perf problems in the platform, we are seeing a few apps lag?” … 
Windows Phone marketing answers it the way they see it “there is no problem with the platform, we are working on education for developers to improve their apps”..
Some developers then get upset and respond with a “what are you talking about? We know our stuff, our apps are good, some are even great, we just need you to improve <insert a feature or a hardware component here> so it is faster..” ..

At first glance, the stories are in partial conflict.. and the developers get caught in the middle (since they are not in the conversation that is getting reported), so I have to share my personal experience as a developer collaborating with partners and developers  to build build good and great Windows phone apps(disclaimer, I still work for Microsoft so I am biased, and all that, but I also like to tell it like it is so read on and decide).

Answer or state of the union:
Every platform always needs performance improvement. Users will always demand more.  Engineers will always aim to provide more. I know our Windows Phone engineering team has improvements and fixes coming into the platform to make things better/faster…

At the same time, the journalist question around “fixing the performance in the platform” is a loaded question and implies “it is broken”. 
Every platform has small bugs and short-falls so the question is whether this is a systemic problem or a big hole that really qualifies ours as “broken”.  I can’t speak for every developer but my experience has been that there is a very reasonable (low) number of bugs as expected, and the platform works and performs well with-in user expectations, so I can understand why MS marketing folks are  responding with the “it is not broken, we just need to advise developers to get the most out of their apps”.

So, why do they say that?  I won't speak for all developers, but I can share that  100% of the apps I have been involved with, can use performance improvements that developers can make today but simply need more time to implement or did not understand a month ago; these are new apps, new usage patterns, etc.. There is also changes that will (eventually) come for free to the platform as improvements (you can call them bug fixes if you want but I would call them optimizations) that will make existing apps better (with out neding changes).

On my partner’s projects, we had to balance between features, optimizations, and polish within the constraints we had to get us to launch – biggest constraint being time,  beta of the platform was shipped ~3 months from RTM, most apps were built in this time-frame.   As developers and engineers, we discover new characteristics or niche scenarios in the platform every day. We are are thriving with all these great new lessons or lessons that others are sharing, and we are improving the apps, lots of these apps are already released their first or second update, and I am sure every one of these is better than their previous release.   

That is why Microsoft is emphasizing education and broad sharing. It is not blame, it is just a natural partnership for any brand new platform ..

To the developers:

When you hear MS marketing folks say “we are working to train and educate developers to improver performance on their apps” please don’t misinterpret as an insult or blame . What Microsoft folks are trying to say is “we have a great platform, but the hardware has been available only for a short time, the new amazing experiences we are seeing every day have never been built before on any platform.  We know we have a strong foundation, but we learn new stuff every day,  and we want to share it as guidance and education so you (developers) can leverage the tips can make your apps even better. 

In my opinion, there is a lot to be proud of..   There is some amazing apps, and some great reviews.  The fact that reviewers like Gizmodo are comparing the Windows Phone apps to apps that have been in other platforms for 18 months to 3 years, and we are comparing neutrally or favorably is pretty amazing.   It has been ~8 months since developers even heard of our platform.  It has been only four months since beta and only a few weeks of marketplace being open.  What do we have to show for?  Thousands of apps in the marketplace, tens of thousands of developers registered,  over half a million downloads of the tools..   All-up, this is a great story…  The read I get from peers at Microsoft is that we are very proud of the platform and the tools,  and we are very impressed (often amazed) with some of the the apps that are getting in the marketplace.  We are heavily invested in providing the best tools and the best guidance.  When we say  we are working on education, all that means is we are ready to partner with you  (our developers).  Your success is the pillar to our own platform’s success. Long-term, we will optimize the platform even further , and half of the issues that are annoying us today will be gone,  but interim, we will have to work together to create great apps.   We know the platform can do it since plenty of you devs already proved it.. 

Let’s keep rocking and don’t over analyze sensationalist titles to news stories..
That is my personal 2c.  Back to my writing some good tips on my upcoming Windows Phone book Winking smile ..

  • Agreed Jaimer, well said.

    I think it's very impressive given how few phones have been available to test with prior to launch.

    Is there a Silverlight style votable wish list site for the dev libraries?

  • If so to @Joe's request, I would like to add my vote for public Bluetooth API.  Would like to communicate my WP7 with serial devices.  Please add to pipeline for next update.

  • Joe,

    I have asked the team for a "wish list" site and the right folks said they definitely plan to do something similar at appropriate time..  

    It sounds like the planning process is fairly involved already ( good # of partners who shared feedback from early adopters program at launch, etc.) so I doubt this is a site going live in a day or two.. but I will try to remind them [and I hope you remind me too]..

    Shaggygi -- your bluetooth API request has been forwarded..

  • I work for one of those partners mentioned where we developed a showcase application and I for one can vouch from the other side of this relationship and say that Jaime is showing no bias here at all.

    We are very grateful for the support and ‘education’ that we received from Microsoft while developing our application.

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