Last week, as was widely anticipated, Microsoft officials announced that the next version of Windows Phone will be based on a core shared with Windows 8. Windows Phone 8 (WP8), announced at the Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco therefore becomes the second reset of the platform after Windows Phone 7 (WP7) broke away from Windows Mobile 6.x (WinMo) about 2 years ago.
When it was announced that WinMo devices won’t be able to upgrade to WP7, there was a lot of complaints from developers as well as users. Developers felt that they would have to code for an installed base of zero, and users felt that their devices are suddenly going to become “legacy”. We can see a similar trend now, because WP7 devices won’t be able to upgrade to WP8 and developers will be faced again with an installed base of zero.
What is good for new WP8 buyers is that all existing WP7 apps will in fact work (and per Microsoft, those apps will work much better on WP8) on their new devices. So, WP8 will not start with zero apps in the marketplace. However, developers will have to justify their investment in WP8. Questions they have to answer:
- As an existing WP7 app developer, why should I build a WP8 app? There are many more WP7 devices today and those devices won’t be able to run my app. On the other hand, if I target WP7 devices, I have to go with the least common denominator.
- As an existing iOS/Android developer, why should I port my app to WP8? There is no one using WP8, and iOS and Android are selling millions of devices every day.
As a result, this reset brings us back to the same place that Microsoft found itself around the time of WP7 launch. The difference this time being, Metro is a well-regarded entity now. Windows and Xbox have now adopted Metro and everyone is going to see the familiar tile-based interface on their PCs and in their homes. It will be perhaps easier to sell WP8 devices given the familiarity.