As a follow-up to a previous post about Microsoft needing to be everywhere, I thought it would be appropriate to describe a recent interaction I had at a developer event.
As it so happens, I met a Microsoft employee and we started talking about what we do. The topic naturally turned to my job as an iOS developer for my current employer. Upon hearing that I developed iOS apps, the Microsoft employee asked me why I don't develop apps for Windows Phone. I responded that while Windows Phone is a technically solid platform, it just wasn't enough of a factor in the industry (e.g. installed user base) for me to jump onboard. I told this person that, if anything, I would probably look to Android as my second platform of choice. They seemed satisfied by my answer.
As is common in these types of meetups, we later exchanged contact information. Since neither of us carried business cards, we exchanged phone numbers. Later that evening, I received a 'Nice to meet you!' message on my phone. I went to the Messages app to respond, and was taken aback by something I noticed. It didn't say 'Text Message' at the top. It said 'iMessage'. This Microsoft employee who had asked me about my hesitance in developing for Windows Phone was in fact an iPhone user.
Back to the question of me getting involved with developing for Microsoft's platforms: would I actually do it as either my 9-to-5 job or as a side project? Honestly, probably not. I suppose that I might be convinced, in a fit of hipsterism, to develop a Windows Phone app while listening to vinyl records, waxing my mustache, and munching on artisanal cheeses, but it just seems unlikely. However, based on the renewed vigor of Azure (and some trepidation with Facebook owning Parse), I could easily see myself using something like Azure Mobile Services to power an app.
The purpose of this anecdote is to illustrate the difficulty that Microsoft has had and will likely continue to have in convincing people to use and develop for its platform. Despite an initiative to provide its employees with free Windows Phone devices, clearly Microsoft has not been able to capture the hearts and minds of its own employees with its platform. Likewise, Microsoft has a difficult road ahead of it trying to convince developers to support its platforms.
Folks, this is why Microsoft needs to focus on providing Azure-based services to the entire world. It's their best chance to stay relevant.