Despite following in the shadow of the iPhone, Blackberry, Google's Android and even Palm's new Pre, Microsoft is hoping developer code camps will help revive the fortunes of its Windows Mobile platform.
Devices based on Windows Mobile 6.5 are expected to surface shortly. But critics say despite advances with the introduction of some touch interfaces and its planned Windows Mobile Marketplace, the platform lacks the appeal of its rivals. The inaugural Windows Mobile Dev Camp was held last week on the Microsoft campus in Redmond and already several other locations are planned in the coming months.
About 75 people attended last week's winmodevcamp, held on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, said Giovanni Gallucci, an independent developer who is organizing the events with support from Microsoft, as reported. While he said there were 2,800 unique connections to the streamed event, only several hundred appeared online at any given time, Gallucci acknowledged.
One of the biggest questions, Gallucci said in an interview: 'when will Microsoft's Silverlight support Windows Mobile?' "People are just wondering when they are going to see Silverlight on Windows Mobile 6.5," Gallucci said.
The question came up again today on a live streamed webcast held by Scott Guthrie, corporate VP of Microsoft's .NET Developer Platform group.
"We will have some compelling stuff, unfortunately we are not quite ready to talk about it now, I wish we could," he said during the webcast. Guthrie, who also runs the Silverlight mobile team, acknowledged that the effort is behind. "It's taken awhile on the mobile space for some of those new Windows Mobile clients to come out, but when they do come out you will find it's a very good story and an awesome developer story."
Loke Uei, senior technical product manager in Microsoft's Windows Mobile device experience group said in an interview that Microsoft is committed to reaching out to developers. At last week's dev camp, Uei told developers that Microsoft is looking to avoid the trap of 99 cent applications associated with Apple's iPhone.
Uei denied reports that Microsoft is looking to developers who focus on higher cost applications so that it can profit from them. "We donвЂ™t make more money, we just want to help ISVs and developers make more money," he said, adding that the 30 percent fee it takes for apps sold "is hardly enough to cover our costs for running this marketplace but we believe it's a good investment to help make ISVs and developers successful."
Last week's one-day event was dominated by presentations. Gallucci said the format of future dev camps will consist of presentations in the morning, followed by a coding contest that will go into the second day. Teams break apart and build mobile applications for Windows Mobile 6.5. Each event's contest will have a different theme, he added.
For example, one will target apps for non-profit organizations. Another might consist of local businesses requesting to have an application built. Also he is planning one that will focus on porting applications from the iPhone, among others.
"We will send the developers off and their job will be to solve the problem for a price, and when they are done, whoever has the best solution, we give that app support on the mobile platform.
Among the dates announced:San Francisco: October 2-4 (in conjunction with the Silicon Valley Code Camp)San Diego: October 6-7 (in conjunction with CTIA Wireless Association show) New York: October 10-11London: October 17-18Los Angeles: November 15-16Hong Kong: November 22-23