Employee Developer Program

In the last couple of days since Andy’s announcement that all employees would get free Windows Phone 7s, we’ve seen a lot of buzz about the offer, including some around why we were doing it.

So why did we do it?  Put simply, we did it for the employees.  If you speak to any software developer or hacker, they will tell you that they love writing code.  They love solving problems.  They love creating things.  They love sharing their work with their friends and peers.  They love the satisfaction of seeing something work on a screen.  Unfortunately, when you work for a company, most of them generally have pretty stringent rules about moonlighting, and the ownership of IP.  For software companies, this usually includes code and side projects.  Microsoft is no different.

With this new mobile app era upon us, the Windows Phone team felt it important that we enable our own employees to participate.  There are so many talented, technical people at Microsoft.  It’s not just professional software developers…many Microsofties love coding, and they work on projects in their spare time.

We believe most Microsofties want to write apps for Windows Phone 7.  Before last week, and the changes announced in our policies, they couldn’t.  They would not have been able to profit from those projects.  We made these changes specifically to address the desire of our own employees to express themselves in code in the app marketplace.  A funny thing happens when you remove friction and barriers among a group of creative people.  I can’t wait to see what they create.

The internal response has been overwhelming.  I can’t count the number of languages in which we heard “thank you” while at our global sales summit last week.

  • Can you clarify what the current policy is on profiting? I think there's confusion there as the reports were that MS employees could not profit with a waiver on a case by case basis from MS.

  • GTRoberts42

    DavidK asks the correct question… are you now stating MSFT employee's can profit from the sale of their apps?

  • Andreas

    Do they also have to pay $99/year?

  • Question: Do they have to pay $99 per year?
    Answer: No, first year marketplace fee waived.

    Question: Are we now stating that MSFT employees can profit from apps?
    Answer: Yes. There are some cases where the work will be in conflict with MSFT interests, but for the most part, yes, we want our developers to be able to participate in this space.

  • GTRoberts

    Thanks Brandon, thats great news for the MSFT employee's!! So I wonder which employee in the Media Center team is going to make the first app that supports DLNA for WP7? 😉 (I'll take 5% of profits for the idea lol)

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  • Dandy that 90K MS employees are getting win7 phonz. How many of that total are devs who might put them to good use? It would be nice were MS to do more than dump effusive praise on devs but leave us empty handed. Not cool or wise. Like the Bush admin-they were great with rhetoric, but didnt deliver.

  • This is yet another slap in the face to devs. I find it very odd that MS expects us to work with emulators to death while the majority of their employees only have a shiny new toy. The devs can make money. Lucky them. Your program is an utter frustration and I started working as an OS dev with MS before there were cells!!

  • Prosto –

    I am not sure I understand your concern here. We actually have been giving no preview developer devices to internal MSFT employees. Everyday I have to share with developers that we have prioritized all preview devices for external developers. The phones that employees will be receiving are going to be those which are available to the public.

    If you are working on great apps, please send me an email and I will connect you with the appropriate mobile champ field resource. brwatson {at} microsoft dot com

  • Richard

    I have to feel the same way. There's a huge community of developers that have already started work on these things, and we're all desperately trying to get our hands on hardware–protoypes, loaners, doesn't matter–so we can test. And all we've heard from Brandon here is, “well, if you post a lot on YouTube and click your heels together, maybe call in favors from your Microsoft buddies, you'll maybe get on the secret list of who gets a device and who doesn't and why.”

    Which would be frustrating enough. Then the pain starts piling on: apparently the first people on the list for devices are people who've written C++ code for WinMo6. Why? There's no guarantee that those prior success stories will have any carry-over for the C#/XNA/Silverlight-based WP7 development world–as opposed to all the 3rd-party developers who have already *started* their apps and are waiting patiently for devices to test on. And now this: every MS employee, right down to their janitorial staff, gets a shiny new toy in their pockets while the developers who are actually Getting Their App On are still working with emulators.


  • Richard, I see that you are frustrated and I'm sorry for that. I assure you that getting preview devices is not a matter of calling in favors or clicking heels together.

    For example, with the existing Windows Mobile developers, what would you suggest? These are developers who have supported us through many iterations of the mobile operating system. If you were one of them, how would you feel? I can think of no better assistance than to help them bring their apps to Windows Phone 7.

    Employees are getting phones when they are available at retail in their markets. They are not getting preview devices. All of the preview devices are being allocated and prioritized for external developers building apps. We're not giving any preview devices to internal developers for personal projects except in very, very rare cases.

    After we published the email alias for developers to request developer devices, the response was immense. In order to be fair, we have to process those emails, get them into a CRM system, assign them to the right field resource in the right country. That takes a little bit of time.

    The developers who are blogging and posting to YouTube are certainly trying to the extra mile to get noticed. Of course it's working. But others have taken to calling MSFT directly (not advised) and emailing people. When I get personal mails, I try to respond to them all, and I absolutely forward them to the right field person.

    With all that said, one angry developer is one too many. I would encourage you to shoot me an eamil, I promise that I will get it to the right person. brwatson {at} microsoft dot com. However, as we have said we don't have an infinite number of preview devices, and we will have to make decisions which will likely leave someone unhappy.

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  • I love working on the platform in my spare time too! 🙂

  • Richard

    If getting a preview device is not a black art, then how do you explain this haphazard process? You yourself have explained quite clearly that the only way to even start the process is to have your emails forwarded to an “appropriate person” somewhere inside MS, who *might* select you to test on a device *if* they're personally intruiged by your work. Heck, you've posted links to apps that you thought were exciting enough to merit hardware, and encouraged us to try to beat that bar to make the cut ourselves. What kind of a process is that??

    Regarding WinMo6 developers, I agree that treating them well is reasonable–after all, they've produced something you value in the past, and rewarding that behavior is good. However, I don't think that blindly giving WinMo6 developers priority over ready-and-waiting WP7 developers makes sense. One of these groups has produced unrelated code in the past using unrelated technologies; the other group has WP7 apps ready to go *now*. Which group truly needs the hardware for their work, and which is getting a members-only-club pass?

    The emails that are circulating now state clearly that to even be considered at this point you must have a WinMo6 release under your belt. If you're the Public Face of WP7 Development, why didn't you explain that nice and loud up front, so people like myself would know that the door was to be shut in our faces before we bothered to get started? Transparency's the issue, man, and you're failing at it.

    Yes, I'm frustrated. I'm an ex-Microsoft employee myself and a decade-long veteran of mobile development including both Windows CE and DangerOS. I've got one WP7 app in the can and ready to go and am working full-speed on a second–but after digging around to actually discover the unpublished criteria for getting access to a device, I've found I'm outside of the loop and will apparently remain there for good.

    And you want me to send you another email. Heh. Been there, done that, got no reply–just like many others. Are you even reading the WP7 forums? Do you see the posts from the other people there who are complaining that they're in the same state as I am?

    Sure, one angry developer is one too many. The truth is that, as I said before, if I can't get access to a device ahead of time because you guys have made and are following good policies but just can't produce enough devices for everyone, I'm honestly okay with that. I *am* a small-time developer and I accept there are Big Outfits out there who are working on stuff that needs on-device testing more–particularly location-sensitive or motion-sensitive features. But when selection decisions are made behind closed doors, when the results of that hidden process show poor decisions being made in an apparently arbitrary fashion, when the requirements are never released but instead slowly leak out over time, just how many angry developers do you expect to have?

  • Anthony Schettler

    Brandon, I've sent a couple e-mails: one to you and another to the e-mail address that was released to the public (wp7req). With the first e-mail I sent, I received a reply from you stating you would connect me with the appropriate people. I never heard anything back. That was back when you told people “If you can find my correct e-mail address, I will help you get in contact with the appropriate people.” I understand you have tons of people to deal with for the other public e-mail address, but that was released about a month later. I just want to know who the appropriate evangelist or “mobile champ field resource” is for Las Vegas, NV. If that's who I need to contact, I will gladly do that. I'm developing a location sensitive app and can't exactly test that in an emulator. This process is extremely frustrating. If we could at least get some form of acknowledgment that our request is still being processed, that would be nice as well.

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