The pain of developing for Windows Phones

I am a bit troubled to see the sad and pathetic decline of Windows brand. After using Macbook for a year there is no way I will revert back to Windows laptops any more except for Gaming.

I purchased a Windows laptop 6 months back. The Lenovo laptop came pre-installed with 27 crapware which quickly made the Windows 7 operating system unusable. After spending hours together trying to uninstall all the toolbars, some battery management software and what not, I gave up and installed Ubuntu on it. Surprisingly the Ubuntu was at least 3x faster on the same hardware. Windows was so painful that even that brand new laptop took around 8 minutes to boot up and become responsive.

Many people started requesting me to port one of my popular Android app to Windows. A lot of people in India who trusted brand Nokia ended up buying Windows phones. To help these people I thought I would buy a Nokia Lumia phone and start developing for it.

After the purchase I quickly realized this.

1. Development is not possible unless your have a Windows machine.

2. Not just any version of Windows but only Windows 8 is required.

3. Windows 8 but 64bit version. 32 bit version is not useful for development.

4. Then you need to download Visual Studio Express. You cant really use Eclipse or something else of your choice.

Not to mention I had to shell out a lot of money to buy a Windows Laptop with licensed version of Windows 8 and a trial version of Visual Studio. (If I am not wrong, there is a free version called Express also but probably is not really good enough for full fledged development).

My troubles had only began. Even if you buy all this you can not start development because you need to do something called “developer unlock” on the phone. Yes, you have paid for the phone but you cant use it the way you want. You need to pay $20 or something to register with Microsoft and then develop.

The Visual Studio was another pain. For example, It was not possible for me copy paste a folder structure in my “Solution” but if I drag drop it worked fine. I never managed to run the phone emulator on the machine. But it worked relatively painlessly on my device.

My Android App relied heavily on WebView and used jQuery Mobile. When I tried porting this for Windows, I finally banged my head on the monster that Microsoft created called “Internet Explorer”. My jQuery Mobile app that worked on Firefox, Chrome, Opera and every other browser would simply not work in IE and hence will not work on Windows Phone either. No error, nothing. There was no debugging of any kind possible for this problem. I am not sure the point for called IE a Internet Browser if it can not support any basic internet operation such as hyperlinks.

I persisted, and made numerous changes to get rid of jQuery Mobile and stick to rather 1990s HTML only and IE worked.

I packaged the app and tried installing it in Windows App store. It probably uses something called Silverlight which hangs my browser for few minutes. The App store forced me to upload screenshots in specific resolution only. For English (International) and English (US) I had to enter title description and screenshots separately.

I have submitted the App and will wait to see if that gets approved.

No one uses Windows Phones. Even in past people did not use Windows phones. It is beyond me why Microsoft would be so unwelcoming for developers who are spending so much to try to build an App.

Die Microsoft Die.

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