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Microsoft's cash-for-apps pitch to devs smells like desperation, says analyst

March 20, 2013 03:53 PM ET

Both Moorhead and Miller have been long-time critics of Microsoft's Windows 8/Windows RT app strategy, and have repeatedly pointed out that the new operating systems' Modern user interface (UI) has a paucity of top-quality, must-have apps.

Miller wasn't keen on the idea of paying for apps. "I agree with Charlie [Kindel]," said Miller, talking about a blog post from September 2012 where Kindel said paying developers cash was a bad idea.

In that post, Kindel -- until mid-2011 the general manager of Microsoft's Windows Phone developer experience -- also predicted Microsoft would make the move.

"It is highly likely things are about to change and Microsoft is going to start directly incenting developers to build apps with cash," Kindel wrote at the time. "If I'm right, and we start to see clear evidence that Microsoft is paying for apps, then Windows is in even more trouble than most of us already believe."

Miller pointed out that Microsoft has quietly funded established app developers -- either directly or in some circuitous fashion -- to bring their already-available Android and iOS apps to the Windows platform. The company is probably still doing that, he added.

But even Gottheil, the most upbeat of the three analysts, knocked Microsoft for the small-change awards. "This gives people the perception that they're cheapskates," he said.

Microsoft has opened its checkbook. In mid-2010 the company launched a $250,000 contest for security researchers asked to create new anti-exploit technologies to better protect Windows users. The winner, Ivan Fratric, a researcher at the University of Zagreb in Croatia, was handed $200,000 for his work.

"I'm surprised that they didn't go that route," said Gottheil, referring to a competition with larger rewards.

Interested developers can review Keep the Cash's terms and conditions on Microsoft's website.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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