Sometimes a little outside critique can be a good thing. This is an interesting blog post by Paul Thurrott about developer documentation available for the iPhone and for Windows Phone 7. I don’t agree with every point, but it’s thought provoking. It inspired me to dig in to the task of making some great docs/content releases for the Forefront products I work on.
Apple provides developers with a fire hose of documentation, and there is precious little excuse for not finding the information you need. And this doesn’t even touch on the content provided by third parties via books, web sites, podcasts, and even on-site developer boot camps. If you want to get started in the iOS world, you’re covered.
…To those who would argue that this is early days and that Microsoft’s documentation can only catch up, I’d say, wake up. When the iPhone debuted three years ago, it was a bolt of lightning in what was then a very immature smart phone world. Three years later, everything has changed, and the market in which Windows Phone will compete is vastly different. In 2010, it is not enough for Microsoft to provide what Apple had in 2007, and this is as true with developer tools and documentation as it with anything else. Microsoft isn’t competing with the Apple of three years ago.
What we need, then, is not a trickle, but a fire hose. We need what Apple offers iOS developers. That’s the bar.
So. Does this mean that Windows Phone is not or will not be successful with developers? No. As I will argue for both the user experience and content as well, Microsoft doesn’t need to match or beat Apple to be successful. But it does need to at least be in the game. I think that what Microsoft has done so far is a nice start, but a nice start only. The key here, is to excite developers enough that they want to create unique Windows Phone solutions and, perhaps even more important, port the key top x percent of iPhone applications to the Microsoft platform.