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Windows Phone 8, and the SDK, Coming Oct. 29

Microsoft has revealed that it will announce Windows Phone 8 later this month, on Oct. 29. The news comes via the always-reliable Mary Jo Foley, Redmond magazine columnist and ZDNet's Microsoft blogger.

Oct. 29, Foley wrote is not the day the phone will be launched, however; rather, the complete feature set and specs will be unveiled. What's even more important for Windows Phone developers, though, is that the Windows Phone 8 SDK should also be available at that time.

As I recently blogged, many developers have been frustrated by Microsoft's unwillingness to widely release the SDK before the phone launches. Microsoft declared in early September that the only developers eligible for the SDK were those who'd already published apps in the Windows Store. In addition, access to the Windows Phone SDK 8.0 Developer Preview program was limited to a five-day signup period.

The angry mobs have a point -- it's hard to get apps prepared for a launch when one doesn't have the SDK to work with. And having apps ready at launch can be a key to building an audience, when the white noise of the market is at its quietest. Why, some asked, isn't having an MSDN subscription good enough?

Todd Brix acknowledged the developer unhappiness, and laid out his reasoning in a blog entry on Sept. 12:

"The reason is that not all Windows Phone 8 features have been announced and our SDK includes comprehensive emulators that allow developers to test apps against a wide range of Windows Phone features."

Whether that explanation satisfied developers is another question entirely. It certainly didn't for a responder to the blog named "hopmedic", who pointed out the difference between this SDK and the one for Mango, Microsoft's big update to Windows Phone 7:

"This is rather a crock...  Last year we were using Mango for what, 2 or 3 months prior to general release?  And this year we can't even have the SDK unless we get picked from the pool of applicants?"

"HowieC42" summed up a lot of the feelings expressed in the comments:

"Not releasing the SDK to interested developers prevents apps being ready for the release of Windows Phone 8. With all the competition in the mobile phone arena, this makes little sense. Phone purchasers are swayed by both the number and quality of apps. A must have app can sell a lot of windows phones. You should be encouraging all developers, not just those with present apps."

Brix responded in the comments, suggesting some options. They include: continuing to write apps using the Windows Phone 7 SDK, as Windows Phone 8 will run Windows Phone 7 apps; and that developers should wait to do final app testing on a shipping Windows Phone 8 device anyway, rather than relying on an emulator. Since those devices aren't out yet, they have time.

In any event, developers don't have that much longer to wait, since the SDK will be out at the end of the month.

Posted by Keith Ward on 10/06/2012

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