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back to article Microsoft opens Windows Phone 8 dev kit to world+dog

Microsoft has officially launched the software development kit (SDK) for Windows Phone 8, delivering the final piece of what the company says is a common programming model across all of its latest OS platforms and devices. "As you can see, we're combining an array of hardware, tools, and technology to deliver a fundamentally …

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Stop

And then you will look at the availability, look for something tried and tested... and go Android.

I suspect developer tools will be more extensive as well and free rather than cut down products microsoft supplies (you gotta pay if you want good productivity tools with MS). This is from a Microsoft fanboy BTW.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsofts own VS Express tools are free of charge. Third party and open source SharpDX, Orge, Unity, Cocos2d etc. available or promised. Not a bad start.

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developer tools for android suck

developing on Android means a bunch of tools around Eclipse gobbled together, command line shit and almost no documentation if you're working in C++ - since everything is for Java. Debugging is almost a myth.

The dev tools on Microsoft are *the* highlight of the platform. Visual Studio Express is not cut down when it comes to mobile. it' all the tools that work for mobile. The so called "full" version of VS is totally unnecessary. What are you going to do, database modeling? It's not like it offers only part of the language, the editor or the debugger! All of these are there in full. The Express edition for phone even supports AddIns.

If you're going to be developing for mobile with a text editor, command line tools and basically GDB for Android, I don't see how you anyone could miss anything in Visual Express, since it's AT LEAST that plus a more elegant environment that ties it all in together.

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Re: developer tools for android suck

Or buy AIDE Premium and develop your app on the same device you're deploying it to. £7.99 in the old empire money, which is not bad for a full IDE with Dropbox and Git integration that can take your eclipse project files and import them directly. There's a free version for you to play about with to see if you like it, too.

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"Microsofts own VS Express tools are free of charge. Third party and open source SharpDX, Orge, Unity, Cocos2d etc. available or promised. Not a bad start."

Furthermore, the Professional version of Visual Studio (not that you can't use Express), costs £500 which is a very low cost compared to the others you'll face in development. That's significantly less than the cost of employing one programmer for one week. Sure, it would be nice if the Professional version were free like the Express, but £500 is a small cost of business and if you're just doing RT or WP8 apps, I think you only have to have the free Express version.

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The clue is in the word "express", and it doesn't mean fast... it means cut down...

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" The clue is in the word "express", and it doesn't mean fast... it means cut down..."

So if you're not happy with the very nice free version of Visual Studio (have you actually used it much?) then use something else. It's not as though you're forced to use Visual Studio. You can write Windows code in a text editor if you want to!

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Windows

They don't make it appealing enough...

They want developers; but they also want developers to cough up quite a few bucks before they can actually do some tinkering with their phones, and I think that's where MS is missing the point.

I own a WP7.5 device, I like to tinker and I also have a fair amount of experience with C#.NET and VB.NET. Needless to say but I picked up the previous SDK and was actually quite pleased with it. It gives you the well known Visual Studio look, gets you a graphical phone display where you can setup your visual components and it gets you the emulator.

But here's the thing; messing with my phone is a whole lot more fun than messing with some emulator. But I can't do that because my phone is "dev locked"; iow: you can't hook it up to your PC and try to gain access to it, won't work.

And to unlock it, you guessed it, I need to cough up some big bucks.

That really doesn't appeal to me. I want to learn the environment, check how stuff works using MY phone, and I really don't mind coughing up, say, E 10,- / E 20,- to cover administrative costs which is bound to be involved with getting me an unlock for my phone.

Instead my choice is: Either you jump in fully or you can forget about it.

Chicken and the Egg: before I can decide if I want to jump in fully I'd like to gain some hands on experience. But in order to gain some hands on experience I gotta jump in fully.

Guess what? I'll simply not jump in at all.

Microsoft needs to make it more appealing if they want to get the interest of developers... Sure, you'll always have plenty of fortune seekers; but they come and go. Something I'm sure MS is going to find out soon enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They don't make it appealing enough...

Big bucks? $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They don't make it appealing enough...

As opposed to $0 (zero) to enable the many and varied developer options in Android, and that's not just an introductory offer.

Also after checking, wow. That's a serious amount of extra dev options in Jelly Bean.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

That to was register as a dev, not to unlock the phone. How much is it to unlock the phone?

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

$99, apparently.

There's a very limited, crippled unlock for $9.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

"That to was register as a dev, not to unlock the phone. How much is it to unlock the phone?"

On the other hand, MS also provide a complete virtualised phone to develop against. So you don't technically need an unlocked phone to develop. Besides £90 is a very small part of the cost of developing new software.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

They would be stupid not to put a phone emulator in their IDE.

However, how is a 32" not-touch monitor going to emulate multi-touch? Or non-mocked GPS? Accelerometers? Gyroes? Cameras? Any of the myriad extra bits of hardware on a real phone or tablet?

That and emulators have a tendency to run like frozen pigshit uphill in Winter compared with the real hardware. If you want to see how your app will really run, you really need a really real device. Really Microsoft, are you so stingy as to charge $99 to give someone the ability to do what they want with what they own? How much does it cost to give out an unlock key? About 0.000000001p for the cost of the electricity to run the server? Why do you even need to dev-lock the device in the first place?

Oh yes. Copying Apple.

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Windows

@AC

Not good enough.

If you check the details on the offer you'll notice that you don't simply apply and pay $ 8,-. No, instead MS charges the regular fee of $100,- and will credit $91,- to your credit card.

Sorry but that really doesn't appeal to me at the very least. Why all the hassle? Why don't they get people to pay $8,- and be done with it? This looks really confusing and plain out stupid to me.

This boils down to: I pay MS $100,- and can then hope they'll actually credit the $91,-. And what happens if I don't get my refund? Where do I complain?

And for people outside of the US its even more obscure; because you pay in your local currency the amount credited will also end up in your local currency. I quote: "In an amount equal to 92% of your registration fee.".

As I said in my original article: they don't make it appealing enough. I'd be happy to apply for $8,- but that's not how it works.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

"However, how is a 32" not-touch monitor going to emulate multi-touch? Or non-mocked GPS? Accelerometers? Gyroes? Cameras? Any of the myriad extra bits of hardware on a real phone or tablet?"

Then get a touch enabled monitor or device. MS are not going to buy your development hardware for you. Really, it's pretty much necessary that there be some barrier such as a fee, to stop anything being installed on a device by anyone otherwise the whole security model collapses. A development licence is one way to do that and $99 is a pittance in terms of development costs. I've charged more than that for just an hours work. Any professional has costs that render this insignificant. And for the amateur who just wants to dip their toe in, as pointed out there is a virtual environment.

"That and emulators have a tendency to run like frozen pigshit uphill in Winter compared with the real hardware. "

Really? You think a modern multi-core x86 computer with double or more the RAM cannot easily emulate a low-memory ARM device? I haven't used the WP8 emulator, but unless you have, I see no reason to believe the above statement.

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Re: @AC

"Not good enough. If you check the details on the offer you'll notice that you don't simply apply and pay $ 8,-. No, instead MS charges the regular fee of $100,- and will credit $91,- to your credit card. Sorry but that really doesn't appeal to me at the very least. Why all the hassle? "

It's hardly a big hassle. Make a payment once and forget about it. The result in both effort and cost is the same . $8 = $0 - $100 + $92. If some internal process makes that simpler for MS, I don't care. And I think only someone who is actively looking for objections would see this as a barrier.

"I'd be happy to apply for $8,- but that's not how it works."

It is to all intents and purposes so honestly, I don't really believe you.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

"MS are not going to buy your development hardware for you."

Since when is having to pay $99 to use your own device translate to Microsoft buying my hardware for me?

"Really, it's pretty much necessary that there be some barrier such as a fee, to stop anything being installed on a device by anyone otherwise the whole security model collapses."

Really? I would think just a simple username/password attached to an admin account would work. That or just not lending your device to all and sundry. Don't make excuses for Microsoft trying to monetize the shit out of everything. A fee is entirely unnecessary to allow someone to do what they want with what they own.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

"Really? I would think just a simple username/password attached to an admin account would work."

You misunderstand. The aim is not to secure the device from other people, but to secure it from the typical user which leads to masses of untested, unverified software going round everywhere. Effectively, there are two levels of cost - normal, and normal + $99 for the open device. Obviously *you* are happy with having the device open to unapproved software and that's a supportable position. But similarly there are consequences if it isn't. The entire history of Windows on the Desktop shows that quite clearly.

"That or just not lending your device to all and sundry. Don't make excuses for Microsoft trying to monetize the shit out of everything. A fee is entirely unnecessary to allow someone to do what they want with what they own."

Well that's a fair point. I'm just stating that if someone wishes to develop software, this cost is pretty much an incidental. And they don't even need to pay it until quite late in the process so it doesn't discourage the casual developer or learner. It's a small cost to a developer or company, but has a significant effect on the ecosystem. Good or bad, not 100% either, imo. But depends where you're coming from. I just object to it being waved around as some conclusive advantage for one platform over another. No remotely serious app developer chooses their platform based on a developer licence cost of $99. They do it on potential market, availability of expertise, niceness of the development environment, integration with existing projects sometimes. But not that fee. It's an irrelevance for the purposes it was used for in this debate. That's my point.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

Just to add, I get where you're coming from. I remember when reading that you couldn't develop for Apple devices without paying for the privelge and thinking that was downright offensive. My primary Desktop at home was Linux at the time, though. Maybe I've shifted position over time, but I just don't see the $99 fee as anything I care about any more. And at least you still can develop for Windows without it. You don't need it for Desktop and technically you don't need it for the phones, you can use the emulator. If you already have a touch device, that should work.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

So.. you have a tickbox, like Android. USB debugging disabled until the user specifically asks for it. No sideloading or alternative sources until the user specifically asks for it. Don't forget this is $99 plus the fee to get onto Microsoft's app store, which seems to have its own rather ironic restrictions on shoddy code.

As to $99 being incidental, we're not all EA.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

"So.. you have a tickbox, like Android. USB debugging disabled until the user specifically asks for it."

Again, you misunderstand. It is about protecting the device from the users. If there is a tickbox that the users can click, then the device is not protected from the users. Please re-read my previous post to save me just writing the same thing again in different words. I got it right the first time and I see no need to say the same thing again phrased differently.

"As to $99 being incidental, we're not all EA."

Your point becomes more ridiculous through repetition. Let us take a small application. Let us say that it takes one person one month to write. A very conservative example as a concession to you so you can't claim I'm using inflationary figures. Let us cost the developer time at £25 per hour. If you're employing someone then even if they're less than £20 per hour, you have costs as an employer on top of that. If you're self employed, then allow me to introduce you to things like unpaid leave, etc. Really, I'm being a bit generous with the £25 per hour cost. I have staff who cost me a lot more than that. Again, I just want to deny you any opportunity to say I'm using exaggerated numbers to win my point. The developer works thirty-five hours a week for four weeks. That's £3,500 in staff costs. For a month. And you are trying to say that US$99 for a developer licence is not an incidental. I haven't even touched on marketing, leave, equipment, utilities, office space. The point that was made was that developers would be dissuaded to another platform because of the $99 developer licence. That is absurd.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

It is about protecting the device from the users.

Unless they pony up $99, in which case it's entirely unprotected. That doesn't protect anything from anybody, but it is a tax on ownership.

I understand your post. You're just highly wrong, and you're assuming by "developers" I mean "big software house that pays developers" and not "a guy who wants to make an app". To the former, $99 probably is toilet paper. To the latter, $99 is a month's travel budget.

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Re: $8 (eight) for the introductory offer.

"Unless they pony up $99, in which case it's entirely unprotected. That doesn't protect anything from anybody, but it is a tax on ownership."

I wrote "users". Plural. Not a particular user. It should be very clear from what I've written what I'm talking about. US$99 protects users in general because it prevents the vast, vast majority of devices from being open to unapproved software. In a way that your tickbox does not. This is pretty much uncontestable. The entire history of malware on Windows illustrates that.

"I understand your post. You're just highly wrong"

The above comment about how a single user might pay US$99 and make their phone unprotected makes it clear that you did not understand what I wrote. Else you wouldn't have talked about the single user unprotecting their phone.

"and you're assuming by "developers" I mean "big software house that pays developers" and not "a guy who wants to make an app".

No I am not. Not even remotely. That's why I very clearly talked about a really, really small app. Something that one person could crank out in a month. Does that sound like I mean a "big software house"? I chose that example particularly because I wanted to be inclusive. My example was very obviously your "person who wants to make an app." And whether they are paid by an employer who shoulders these costs, or they're freelance and pay them themselves, US$99 is a mere incidental cost compared to others in developing even a simple app. Really, if you are that unfamiliar with the costs involved in a development project, then you shouldn't be trying to argue so stridently on this. Look again at my post. Firstly, you plainly didn't understand it as you addressed a point that I didn't make. Secondly, I provided illustrative figures which are real world figures. You've just skipped over them entirely because they're inconvenient to your point and introduced your own more emotive references to "toilet paper" and "a guy trying to write an app". Seeing as it'll probably take the more casual programmer a month before they're even ready to test on a phone, I'm just not seeing the issue. By that point, they ought to have a good idea whether they are serious about releasing their product or not and be able to budget the $99 if they want to test on a real phone (as opposed to the emulator which you keep trying to side-step as a solution).

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ROC

If MS Wants their phones on my employer's network

they have to be remotely manageable like WinMob 6.x was, and like iOS and Android 2.2+ are now - about anything but WP 7.x. And that's 100K employees around the globe.

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"If you want the best experience with your new Windows computer – the best experience – you'll own a Windows Phone," Ballmer said. "If you want the experience that is most personal, you will buy a Windows Phone."

I think the problem for ballmer is that for years people didnt buy windows phones or tablets because they didn't want a desktop UI on a phone. Now he's betting they want a phone/tablet UI on a desktop/laptop. I don't and I suspect many others don't.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong, he's expecting desktops and laptops to be phased out and be replaced by tablets that can actually do what the desktops and laptops can do. Windows 8 on a Surface Pro will be more capable than the other tablets on the market which are just running phone apps.

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You can develop for a laptop on the laptop you're developing for, and no need to pay a tax to a price-gouging vendor with a history of lock-in.

Oh, wait.

Come on Microsoft, Apple. Catch up, won't you?

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Anonymous Coward

Any experience that Ballmer is advocating as "the most personal"...

...is an experience that I don't want any part of!

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Anonymous Coward

Worth pointing out

that the following is a rational, low risk approach to cross platform games development:

http://bgr.com/2012/08/22/windows-phone-8-unity3d-engine-support/

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Bronze badge

Woohoo!

"To demonstrate, he showed off an app built using code from a years-old third-party C++ library. The app package consisted of three Visual Studio projects. Two were frontend UIs; one for Windows 8 and one for Windows Phone 8. The third was a shared code library that contained the code for all the essential functions of the app, and that could be used to build a version for either platform."

Microsoft has discovered n-Tier coding. Welcome to the 20th Century, Microsoft.

<yes, sarcasm intended - we *are* talking about a company that so tightly links its Kernel, GUI and own Apps that it now can't tell where one ends and the other starts. Don't believe me? Try completely removing IE from your system.>

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JC_

Re: Woohoo!

Ah, if you're on top of the MS code-base then you should contact Microsoft and offer them your services.

Why'd they hire a dunce like Mark Russinovich when Neoc clearly has the goods with his ability to use the add/remove programs applet.

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Re: Woohoo!

Because, JC_, if you'd actually bothered to check the behaviour of "add/Remove" for IE you'd have noticed that all it does is remove the user's direct access to it. The IE's engine still sticks around like a bad smell because MS tied it to so many other crap (active desktop in XP, for example) that they *can't* remove it.

And no, I *don't* develop OS software - my field is big data - but I do expect that those who *do* have an understand of separation of duties.

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JC_

Re: Woohoo!

Vista killed off Active Desktop, but more to the point, if an OS requires an HTML renderer to display the UI, then how do you expect to be able to pull it out? Safari is bundled with OS X, too, for the same reason: dependencies on the renderer.

Regarding n-tier programming, MS have been working on reducing dependencies for a decade. You should check the link I posted as it's interesting stuff. XP is an old operating system which suffers from design-decisions that were reasonable at the time but have been overtaken by progress; of course, while its successors have massively improved under the covers, most Reg commentators still think that M$ is teh suxors and get applauded for droning on.

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Re: Woohoo!

"if an OS requires an HTML renderer to display the UI, then how do you expect to be able to pull it out?"

Standard API calls, allowing me to replace the library which handles those call. The same way I can pick-and-choose which CODEC library handles the decoding of a specific encode. Or which program gets called to handle the file I just double-clicked on (OK, that last one's stretching the simile a bit).

Point is, there is no reason to bundle a piece of software (which started off as a separate application) so tightly in the operating system except to make sure it's the only one which will handle this function and force people to use it. And MS is not the only guilty party: Apple's "you can install any browser you want in iOS so long as it uses Safari's rendering engine" is just as bad.

As for post-XP versions of windows, I hated Vista with a vengeance but quite like Win7 - which is, let's face it, Vista the way it should have been. I am withholding porting to Win8 for several reasons, but the major one is that MS has always stumbled on their first try when changing design philosophies. So I fully expect Win8 to be a nightmare and will wait for the next iteration and the fixes.

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Re: Woohoo!

"Standard API calls, allowing me to replace the library which handles those call. The same way I can pick-and-choose which CODEC library handles the decoding of a specific encode. Or which program gets called to handle the file I just double-clicked on (OK, that last one's stretching the simile a bit)."

All these calls are available to standard applications in WindowsRT. The complaint from Mozilla is that they don't have more advanced APIs available. They want to be able to fork processes for their plugins, they want direct memory access for the Javascript engine. This isn't about rendering HTML - these things you can do with the Windows RT libraries and actually do well from what I've seen. But the other things raise serious issues in terms of security and performance. With access like that it's a lot harder to effectively sandbox and manage an app. So who gets them? Eveyone - in which case a lot of badly written apps will turn your nice fast OS to mush. Or only the OS manufacturer who can restrict access to the a handful of programs that they directly manage. Should Mozilla be favoured with special access because of their brand name? Should people be able to pay a large fee to get access to them? Both situations sound unpleasant to me. Those are the reasons anyway, it's not about HTML rendering.

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Stop

Here's an idea for Microsoft.

People may want to develop in Windows Phone 8. So why force developers to download (via their shitty and slow Download Manager) the full 1.6GB of their Windows Phone 8 SDK with Visual Studio 2012 added in as a mandatory extra?

Instead, why not just provide the SDK as a smaller add-on to earlier Visual Studio releases like 2010 and 2008? A couple of tens of megabytes, maybe, but nothing to deter people from having a go. But when you get up to gigabytes... that's when people start to baulk. Especially with the glacial speeds of Download Manager, which I found often 28K/s or slower on a fibre optic connection.

I was in a Uni course a few weeks ago on cloud computing, and one of the tasks asked was to make an app and connect it to Azure. It's easy to get a Phone 8 "store" there when you've got an account given to you - but no-one wants to make a Phone 8 app to go there when you have to install VS2012. Students often feel leery about installing programs on computers that don't belong to them; it could land them in trouble. So almost everybody ended up making their apps in Windows Phone 7.1, as VS2010 was already on the lab computers.

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Gold badge

Re: Here's an idea for Microsoft.

I can download 1.8GB in about 5 minutes or less. It's the OS requirements that are a mistake. You should be able to develop WP8 apps on Windows 7 too.

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Anonymous Coward

Not so difficult to port games to Windows Phone 8

As shown by the following demo:

http://blogs.unity3d.com/2012/10/30/unity-windows-phone-8-demonstrated-at-microsoft-build-conference/

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Re: Not so difficult to port games to Windows Phone 8

Yeah.

Anybody ever bothered looking at the cost involved in buying the full Unity3D, the full Autodesk creative suite, MS visual studio, a proper version of Windows 8 and all the other various things that people think you have to have to develop software?

Might as well just buy a house, sit on it for 6 months and re-sell it. You'll make more money and it'll probably be a lower outlay, and definitely less risk.

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Anonymous Coward

Big bucks?

It's the only model Microsoft understands. If you want to develop software for Windows, become a well-funded business and buy the required proprietary software and annual licences**. Not only is that The American Way, but it's the only way you're going to make money for Microsoft and its partners*.

*Hint 1: Your company is not one of them.

**Hint 2: Yes, it's a huge market. No, you don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of making money from it. Trust me.

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Re: Big bucks?

"It's the only model Microsoft understands. If you want to develop software for Windows, become a well-funded business and buy the required proprietary software and annual licences**. "

Or in less hyperbolic terms, a copy of Windows, the free edition of Visual Studio and a small registration fee for the marketplace if you want to sell via that. If you don't like the free edition of Visual Studio, use something else. You don't have to use it, its just that most people do. You should check your facts before launching into a rant.

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