There’s been a lot of talk about new features in Windows Phone 8, and it’s been getting positive responses in general, even from the Verge and other outlets that have been very critical in the past. The one place they still ding Windows Phone consistently is on the ecosystem. There are apps/games available on iOS and Android not available on Windows Phone and many times it’s a killer app that people can’t live without.
One of these apps is Pandora. I have a very big suspicion that the major reason it wasn’t ported to Windows Phone 7 was because they would have to move to managed code (C# or VB.NET), and this was just too big of an undertaking for them. Sure, other apps did it, but I suspect in most cases it was either an influx of cash from Microsoft, or Microsoft itself doing the port. I know when I worked on the iHeartRadio app for Windows Phone 7 we used absolutely none of the code from their existing apps and started fresh.
Windows Phone 8 no longer requires that apps be written in .NET, you can now use C++. When tech pundits talk about the lack of ecosystem they are basing that on the history of Windows Phone 7, but I really think that the changes made in Windows Phone 8, especially the ability to write apps and games in C++ makes a huge difference and now I think you will see Windows Phone be a first class citizen with developers because they won’t have to do nearly as much to support the Windows Phone platform.
Add to this the fact that Visual Studio is the absolute best development environment on any platform, and it’s very possible that we may see some apps on Windows Phone first, followed by iOS and Android. Of course this won’t be the norm, and I’d be happy if we see apps at the same time or not long after.
Of course ideally we would see some killer apps on Windows Phone first, and with the increased options for development there is a much better chance this could happen. Overall I think that Windows Phone 8 has the absolute best development environment of any smartphone in the industry, and I hope and expect that this will translate into a thriving ecosystem. Only time will tell.
By the way, I have two Windows Phone 8 devices now after my recent visits to the Windows Phone launch in San Francisco and at the BUILD conference and personally I’m very impressed with the platform, animations are smoother, most of the major drawbacks have been resolved, and the hardware is up to spec with the other flagship smartphones. I’m very excited to see where this goes.