Microsoft Makes Quick Peace With a Developer

Given Steve Ballmer's now-infamous developer chant, you'd think that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) would be more vested in the success of its developer partners. In a briefly dramatic episode this morning, U.K. developer Rubicon took to bashing the software giant's digital storefront.

Rubicon's popular title Great Big War Game has fared well on both Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iOS and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Android, boasting 4.5 stars in both the App Store and Google Play. The game maker decided to invest the time and energy into porting the game over to Windows RT, spending upwards of 10,000 pounds on the endeavor.

Not-so-royal treatment
The developer said that in the first week the game earned "the princely sum" of just 52 pounds, in part due to the lack of promotional support from Microsoft. That lack of visibility has handicapped sales, much to the chagrin of Rubicon. In contrast, the developer said that Apple, Google, and "even" Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) have all regularly promoted the company's games. Rubicon even predicted that at this rate, Microsoft's digital storefront "is going to look mighty bleak for a long time to come."

It was a scathing blog post, but the company has now taken down the diatribe, as Microsoft quickly reached out to make peace with Rubicon, even though in the heat of the moment the developer said it would never produce another title for Microsoft's platform again. In its place is a far more diplomatic response titled, "Windows RT -- Might work out at some point," containing just this:

If anyone already read this post, it has had a very positive effect and Microsoft have graciously decided work with us to iron out the problems and get us past this incident.

With a sense of fair play, I'm putting my grumpiness on hiatus and deleting the juicy bits. Which was all of it, sorry.

Developer relations are immensely important for the success of any mobile platform nowadays. RIM's been aggressively working to retain developer talent as it approaches the launch of BlackBerry 10. Google's biggest challenge on the developer side is getting them to optimize apps for tablet displays, while the smartphone side of Android is incredibly robust.

Mr. Softy has a problem
I know an iOS developer that's been approached by Microsoft to port titles, and the software giant is willing to provide financial support, so his company is playing ball. The biggest hurdle remains Microsoft's infamous bureaucracy and processes, though. He's said that an iOS developer can be fully up and running within a couple of hours after paying Apple's $99 developer program, while he's worked for months just to get all the tools he needs to complete the port.

At least Microsoft is being proactive in its attempts to address developer discontent, since without them its new Windows platform would be doomed. The company has made progress in bolstering its app count on Windows Phone, crossing the 100,000 threshold over the summer. It's also targeting 100,000 Windows 8 apps by February with the presumption that the Windows 8 installed base will be upwards of 400 million by next summer. There will always be legacy app support in Windows 8, but Windows RT is relying solely on the Windows Store for app content.

The company has already announced that it sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses in the first month, outpacing the initial upgrade activity for Windows 7 before it. That means Microsoft already has 10% of its July target.

If Microsoft doesn't get its act together and do everything in its power to make its developers' lives easier, "mighty bleak" might end up a pretty apt description.

It's been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who've watched the company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth in mobile over the past decade. However, with the release of its own tablet, along with the widely anticipated Windows 8 operating system, the company is looking to make a splash in this booming market. In this brand-new premium report on Microsoft, our analyst explains that while the opportunity is huge, the challenges are many. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.


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