Ballmer: Apps written for WP7 work on all Windows Phones, unlike Android

We're just over two weeks away from retail availability of Windows Phone 7 devices in Europe and Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, has begun putting his unique stamp on the launch.

Speaking at the UK Tech Days event today in London, Ballmer slammed Google's Android phone software. "Unlike Google, if you write an app for Windows Phone 7, it will work on all Windows phones" said Ballmer. The Microsoft boss was also quick to admit that Windows Mobile wasn't perfect. "We got ourselves in to a little bit of a pickle with phones, but now we're on track" he said.

This isn't the first time that Ballmer has spoken ill of Android or Google. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the Microsoft chief claimed that Android wasn't free and contained hidden patent fees that the software giant is attempting to squeeze out of Motorola. Ballmer also claimed that Google are copying Bing in a recent Seattle Times interview.

Despite the cheeky comment, Ballmer has a point. The longest running complaint about Google's Android OS is fragmentation. With an accelerated development roadmap, carriers are finding it harder and harder to keep up with offering the latest version of Android on their devices. Usually, smartphone users have to wait a few months after Google releases the latest version of Android before their phone's manufacturer can get the update ready for their devices. This fragmentation means you can't always be sure you will get the same device experience from a HTC Android device versus a Motorola device. Microsoft struggled with fragmentation on its Windows Mobile range of devices, sometimes offering too much choice and customization for device manufacturers comes round to bite you. It's possible that Android may end up in a similar situation if Google doesn't address this quickly.

Aside from the Android bashing, Ballmer also confirmed that Windows Phone 7 devices will be available in the UK in two weeks. Neowin exclusively revealed that Microsoft plans to introduce Windows Phone 7 devices on a range of mobile operators in the UK on October 21. Microsoft is planning to partner with a big London based radio station in the UK to promote Windows Phone 7. Orange, a long time Windows Mobile partner of Microsoft's, is also expected to be a close launch partner for Windows Phone 7.

Image Credit: Adam Bonner (@abonneruk)

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Just read it on Engadget...."Skype's acknowledged there are some incompatibilities with Samsung Galaxy S"...I hope Steve Ballmer is correct.

Last I heard, MS is allowing HTC to slap HTC Sense on WP7... how they are going to allow this and yet somehow not have fragmentation is beyond me...

Shadrack said,
Last I heard, MS is allowing HTC to slap HTC Sense on WP7... how they are going to allow this and yet somehow not have fragmentation is beyond me...

Not HTC Sense in the way you are thinking of. HTC can ship the phone with pre-loaded applications, but cannot replace the interface.

I was at the event today. Ballmer did mention that the fragmentation issue had existed on window mobile as well as android. The main point I think he was making was them standardising the the base hardware that all WP7 will prevent fragmentation.

so if phones have different hardware "extra" like a FM tuner would the app also work on the one that doesn't have it just because it's a windows phone 7?

Superboy said,
so if phones have different hardware "extra" like a FM tuner would the app also work on the one that doesn't have it just because it's a windows phone 7?
I hope that all the common hardware requirement are already laid out...it includes Bluetooth, Screensize, RAM, processor, accelerometer, FM etc..And no hardware vendor will actually remove a hardware in next iteration of updates.

Microsoft can easily try and make this argument because there is only one version of the OS, the 7 RTM, the OS is shackled to the point where OEMs can't really do anything to make themselves different software wise so incompatibility doesn't occur. Also what about previous versions of Windows Phone like 6.5, no apps for that work on Windows Phone 7, some may say it's a whole new product, people would be pretty annoyed if in Android 3.0 all previous app support disappeared.

thealexweb said,
Microsoft can easily try and make this argument because there is only one version of the OS, the 7 RTM, the OS is shackled to the point where OEMs can't really do anything to make themselves different software wise so incompatibility doesn't occur. Also what about previous versions of Windows Phone like 6.5, no apps for that work on Windows Phone 7, some may say it's a whole new product, people would be pretty annoyed if in Android 3.0 all previous app support disappeared.

I doubt I will be able to convince an Android fanboy, but Microsoft will handle the OS updates.

Why target hate at just Google, what about Apple... Some apps don't support iOS1/2 now do they? And at least Google and Microsoft don't offer an update for a device, but strip it of everything useful.

For his sake I hope it's true. Compatibility like that is what wins over developers. Well, that and money. One of the best things about the iPhone is the apps run on pretty much everything. There are some exceptions but for the most part it works across devices and usually even OS versions.

I'm curious how MS will handle software updates and how often they will update it compared to their rivals. Since they have nothing equal to iTunes in terms of phones, they will probably have to distribute software updates through carriers. Which for consumers, sucks the big one.

Xero said,
For his sake I hope it's true. Compatibility like that is what wins over developers. Well, that and money. One of the best things about the iPhone is the apps run on pretty much everything. There are some exceptions but for the most part it works across devices and usually even OS versions.

I'm curious how MS will handle software updates and how often they will update it compared to their rivals. Since they have nothing equal to iTunes in terms of phones, they will probably have to distribute software updates through carriers. Which for consumers, sucks the big one.

Large software updates come through the Zune software, just like iPhone updates come through iTunes. Smaller updates will work over the air. All updates will come from Microsoft, without the carriers getting involved.

Also as all phones can get the updates at the same time, you wont have to worry about some handsets not having the latest update, stopping apps from working.

I dont think you understand software and hardware platforms, its not quite as easy as you think making software compatible between two completely different systems, not only do you have to take in account both types of architectures but it could be a nightmare developing such a compability software because of some of the constraints and rulesets you are working with. Microsoft problably spent a lot of resources on this and I have to give them credit, you dont see all apps designed for the lastest Mac OSX for the iPhone or all linux apps compatible with Android. However its going to be interesting how they get some of these apps working, because there would have to be all types of modifications to take into account GUI, and input functionality.

Wow, apps written for the first version for WP7 will work on all those phones. What a surpise....nooot..when there are quite hard regulations on the required hardware..

Lets see if all apps still work on all phones in 2 years.

fobban said,
Wow, apps written for the first version for WP7 will work on all those phones. What a surpise....nooot..when there are quite hard regulations on the required hardware..

Lets see if all apps still work on all phones in 2 years.

Unless there's some drastic change between the versions of silverlight or XNA used, then all apps will work in 2 years just the same. And you don't have to wait for your carrier to finally get a ROM update out (which might never happen) since MS will push out updates directly.

LaP said,
Does that mean i'll be able to upgrade my WP7 device to WP8, WP9 and so on in the future ?

Unless WP8 and WP9 have some specific hardware requirement that's missing in WP7 phones all it would take is MS to sell you the new version which they very well might do.

PotatoJ said,
Well the phone is just being released, of course it will! Not all iPhone apps work on the 3G, that's just a part of progression.

That's because Apple changed the hardware and changed the things that you can do with the phone itself (aka the SDK was changed around). Microsoft made strict requirements on their phones so that anything running on it can be run in the future. Since their apps run in a "sandbox" per se, it should be achievable.

Zedox said,

That's because Apple changed the hardware and changed the things that you can do with the phone itself (aka the SDK was changed around). Microsoft made strict requirements on their phones so that anything running on it can be run in the future. Since their apps run in a "sandbox" per se, it should be achievable.

It is like Windows. Sure, apps don't run in a sandbox, you can get XP applications to work on Windows 7, and you can certainly get Windows Vista applications to work on Windows 7. Not always, as sometimes things change, but Microsoft doesn't do major overhauls that often. Which they did with WP7, so it will be awhile before anything super duper major happens. Now if only they would do that with Windows, lol.

**** you Ballmer. First the Courier and then the KIN. As soon as MS can produce a quality non ****ed up mobile product, they need to STFU seriously.

And they sure as hell dont practice this (apps will work on all) model with their software...like Office and Internet Explorer.

techbeck said,
**** you Ballmer. First the Courier and then the KIN. As soon as MS can produce a quality non ****ed up mobile product, they need to STFU seriously.

And they sure as hell dont practice this (apps will work on all) model with their software...like Office and Internet Explorer.

Wow, I have no idea what you are raging about. Maybe go back and take your meds, let those kick in then come back and try to form a coherent thought mmmkay?

zkid2010 said,

Wow, I have no idea what you are raging about. Maybe go back and take your meds, let those kick in then come back and try to form a coherent thought mmmkay?

Don't like my post, then dont comment and get off topic by critiquing my posts.

And it is stupid for anyone with a history or recently failed products to take jabs on another company and claim theirs will be better before it is released. Obviously with the success of Android, they are not worried about a lot of different OS' floating around either.

So again, **** you Ballmer for talking out of your ass...again.

techbeck said,
**** you Ballmer. First the Courier and then the KIN. As soon as MS can produce a quality non ****ed up mobile product, they need to STFU seriously.

And they sure as hell dont practice this (apps will work on all) model with their software...like Office and Internet Explorer.

That's some funny stuff. Office doesn't work on all Windows machines? IE doesn't either? Wow, okay.

Hercules said,
That's some funny stuff. Office doesn't work on all Windows machines? IE doesn't either? Wow, okay.

No all versions of Office or IE work on ALL WINDOWS OS. Get it now? Try loading IE9 on XP as MS states it will not be available for example.

techbeck said,
**** you Ballmer. First the Courier and then the KIN. As soon as MS can produce a quality non ****ed up mobile product, they need to STFU seriously.

And they sure as hell dont practice this (apps will work on all) model with their software...like Office and Internet Explorer.

Courier was never announced as a product, it was a project, yes. That was it. Kin, ok, they messed up with the pricing (the phone itself was actually good) with verizon.

Office/IE does work on all Windows OS' it supports aka built for. You just seem salty.

Zedox said,

Courier was never announced as a product, it was a project, yes. That was it. Kin, ok, they messed up with the pricing (the phone itself was actually good) with verizon.

Office/IE does work on all Windows OS' it supports aka built for. You just seem salty.

You obviously missed the point and are uninformed...

Courier was a product, but failed as was stated and was a reason Ballmer didnt get as big a bonus. There may not have been a physical device yet, but it was called a failed product.

And not writting and making IE9 available for XP is the same damn thing as the android OS not being available for all phone models.

Froyo was not made or written for older phones. How is that any different that MS apps not being made or written for older OS'?

techbeck said,

And not writting and making IE9 available for XP is the same damn thing as the android OS not being available for all phone models.

Froyo was not made or written for older phones. How is that any different that MS apps not being made or written for older OS'?

Start with the second one. You are comparing an OS to Applications.

Back to the first one: If you understood the WDDM and the technical aspects of what Direct2D and some of the other GPU processing features do and require you would easily understand why IE9 cannot run on WindowsXP.

WinXP uses the XPDM, Vista and Win7 use WDDM. The newer WDDM offers a lot of features that WinXP is INCAPABLE of doing. For example the WDDM gives the OS GPU scheduling, meaning that doing generic processing on the GPU won't lock the display as the OS is managing the GPU and its ability to multi-task all GPU operations in a pre-emptive manner.

This is like expecting Mac System 9 to multi-task like OS X does and then complain that software doesn't work on Mac System 9. The shift from XPDM to WDDM and how the GPU multi-tasks is as dramatic as the difference as Mac System 9 and OS X handle CPU mult-tasking.

So if an application is using features that require the GPU to be managed by the OS, so it doesn't lock up the displaying of graphics and content and locking one application to the GPU, then it simply will not run on XP.

Understand now? If not, go Bing/Google WDDM vs XPDM, even throw Direct2D into the search.

techbeck said,

You obviously missed the point and are uninformed...

Courier was a product, but failed as was stated and was a reason Ballmer didnt get as big a bonus. There may not have been a physical device yet, but it was called a failed product.

And not writting and making IE9 available for XP is the same damn thing as the android OS not being available for all phone models.

Froyo was not made or written for older phones. How is that any different that MS apps not being made or written for older OS'?


Because you're talking about an operating system that came out 10 years ago.

They won't because the aspect ratios and the hardware requirements are totally different. Hopefully they make a ZuneHD2.

Zedox said,
They won't because the aspect ratios and the hardware requirements are totally different. Hopefully they make a ZuneHD2.

I already bought a Zune HD

bguy_1986 said,
I would like to hear the apps will work with the zune also....

I was at the ICC today at this very event, and Ballmer confirmed there is no Zune hardware coming to Europe with the launch of the Zune software/service. Given that, it's unlikel there will be much more love for the Zune devices.

MS Pandya said,

I was at the ICC today at this very event, and Ballmer confirmed there is no Zune hardware coming to Europe with the launch of the Zune software/service. Given that, it's unlikel there will be much more love for the Zune devices.

Unless there is a Zune HD2 which would be WP7 without the phone xD Like an iPod Touch.

That'd be awesome!

oh really Steve B. ?

so all apps written for Windows Phone 7 will simply work eh?

that was plan for windows mobile 5, then 6, and 6.1, then 6.5, then 6.5.1, then 6.5.3, then 6.5.5, then "KIN" (released *AND* cancelled in 6 weeks, gotta be a record there Steve!) and now windows mobile 7...

so will apps written for WinM7 work on your "other" WinMo OS's? you know, the ones based on that OS kernel you didn't update in *SIX YEARS* since WinMo 2003, before abandoning it completely and starting all over again with WinMo 7?

you know Steve, that stagnant mobile OS that you messed up so bad that it got you "a little bit of a pickle with phones" that your company salary bonus was cut in half for lousy performance in Mobiles and tablets?

and you want to talk about fragmentation Steve?

pengwin1 said,
oh really Steve B. ?

so all apps written for Windows Phone 7 will simply work eh?

that was plan for windows mobile 5, then 6, and 6.1, then 6.5, then 6.5.1, then 6.5.3, then 6.5.5, then "KIN" (released *AND* cancelled in 6 weeks, gotta be a record there Steve!) and now windows mobile 7...

so will apps written for WinM7 work on your "other" WinMo OS's? you know, the ones based on that OS kernel you didn't update in *SIX YEARS* since WinMo 2003, before abandoning it completely and starting all over again with WinMo 7?

you know Steve, that stagnant mobile OS that you messed up so bad that it got you "a little bit of a pickle with phones" that your company salary bonus was cut in half for lousy performance in Mobiles and tablets?

and you want to talk about fragmentation Steve?

The difference that everyone seems to be missing here is that WP7 uses two main platform API sets that are managed and sandboxed from the begining.

This is why what he says is probably true, as Silverlight and XNA are rather tight and being .NET managed libraries are going to be very consistent. So going forward all applications written for generation 1.x of the product will work years later for generation X.x of the product.

FoxieFoxie said,
"Apps written for WP7 work on all Windows Phones,"

WP 6.5 also? It is a Windows Phone, so..?


There is no WP 6.5, it's called Windows Mobile 6.5

mikrokiwi said,

There is no WP 6.5, it's called Windows Mobile 6.5

What if MS decides to call WP8 dunno Windows Mobile for Phone 8 and then all your apps don't work anymore because it's not called Windows Phone 8?

LaP said,

What if MS decides to call WP8 dunno Windows Mobile for Phone 8 and then all your apps don't work anymore because it's not called Windows Phone 8?

What's your point? Why would he go out and say that every app will work on every phone in the future? That's just stupid.

OceanMotion said,
So, does that mean WP7 upgrades will be pretty much instant and no hassle regardless of phone manufacturer or carrier ?

I believe that has always been the plan... updates were always intended to be controlled by Microsoft and it was up to carriers and hardware manufacturers to update any software that they provided to ensure compatibility.

If someone knows otherwise, feel free to correct me... I could well be wrong here.

OceanMotion said,
So, does that mean WP7 upgrades will be pretty much instant and no hassle regardless of phone manufacturer or carrier ?


Same question here. It would be great if updates of WP7 can be obtained *directly* from Microsoft's server.

"Unlike Google, if you write an app for Windows Phone 7, it will work on all Windows phones"

I am sure it is, but what happen when WP7 got updated to 7.1/ 7.2/ etc?

GraphiteCube said,

Same question here. It would be great if updates of WP7 can be obtained *directly* from Microsoft's server.

"Unlike Google, if you write an app for Windows Phone 7, it will work on all Windows phones"

I am sure it is, but what happen when WP7 got updated to 7.1/ 7.2/ etc?

+1, In addition, doesn't google plans with 3.0 to only allow 1 interface so it's not like they produce update x.x, then have to give it to the phone makers to integrate there interface with the base x.x update (the biggest reason for the delays).

Douglas_C said,

I believe that has always been the plan... updates were always intended to be controlled by Microsoft and it was up to carriers and hardware manufacturers to update any software that they provided to ensure compatibility.

If someone knows otherwise, feel free to correct me... I could well be wrong here.

This is the plan indeed; the problem is that MS had the same plan with WM 6........
This time I will wait and see......

etempest said,

+1, In addition, doesn't google plans with 3.0 to only allow 1 interface so it's not like they produce update x.x, then have to give it to the phone makers to integrate there interface with the base x.x update (the biggest reason for the delays).

Google with Android will never force only one UI. The UI will be completely apart from the core in 3.0.
That will be easier for third party to intégrate their won code with every update.

etempest said,

+1, In addition, doesn't google plans with 3.0 to only allow 1 interface so it's not like they produce update x.x, then have to give it to the phone makers to integrate there interface with the base x.x update (the biggest reason for the delays).

Its not UI changes that are the big things companies need to update, they have to do full baseband testing against the mobile networks before they can roll it out. UI updates are the least of their problems.
The correct statement Baller should have said was any windows phone 7 app will run on any windows phone app 7 hardware I suspect.

OceanMotion said,
So, does that mean WP7 upgrades will be pretty much instant and no hassle regardless of phone manufacturer or carrier ?

Actually yes given the stringent requirements.

Fritzly said,

This is the plan indeed; the problem is that MS had the same plan with WM 6........
This time I will wait and see......

Yeah I remember that and it never got a single update lol.

With his track record on making comments on competitors, he needs to really hush down until wp7 is a success in the marketplace.

Perhaps but there's no denying that Android has issues with application compatibility between different OS versions and problems getting new OSes out to existing handsets. Hopefully Microsoft's new approach will eliminate these problems on their platform (they were certainly a problem for WinMo users in the past).

jakem1 said,
Perhaps but there's no denying that Android has issues with application compatibility between different OS versions and problems getting new OSes out to existing handsets. Hopefully Microsoft's new approach will eliminate these problems on their platform (they were certainly a problem for WinMo users in the past).

most of the problem is with Android 1.5 (the first commercial version of android) , they now have stabilized the API.
And except some ****ty carrier or smartphone nothing is left on 1.5. the same can be said with the original iPhone a lots of apps have problem now.

1.5 and 1.6 only represent 25%, the rest is 2.1 (~40%) and 2.2 (~35%) and Froyo will have a huge push forward when Samsung will upgrade it's Galaxy S lineup.

NesTle said,

most of the problem is with Android 1.5 (the first commercial version of android) , they now have stabilized the API.
And except some ****ty carrier or smartphone nothing is left on 1.5. the same can be said with the original iPhone a lots of apps have problem now.

1.5 and 1.6 only represent 25%, the rest is 2.1 (~40%) and 2.2 (~35%) and Froyo will have a huge push forward when Samsung will upgrade it's Galaxy S lineup.


I'm rather annoyed my phone is stuck on 2.1 forever. I plan to upgrade to WP7 when Verizon gets them.

randomevent said,

I'm rather annoyed my phone is stuck on 2.1 forever. I plan to upgrade to WP7 when Verizon gets them.

Im sorry. But if you are expecting a better upgrade ability from MS ure in for a shock. They have the WORST track record of partners upgrading windows mobile phones to new versions.

Zerosignull said,

Im sorry. But if you are expecting a better upgrade ability from MS ure in for a shock. They have the WORST track record of partners upgrading windows mobile phones to new versions.

This is true. But this time, they are strictly regulating the hardware and setup of a WP7 (or at least, claiming to).

Its difficult. Service providers want an opportunity to evaluate the software that is driving the phones on their network and device manufacturer want to install their own layer of "branding" software (HTC Sense for example). Meanwhile, consumers just want to have the latest and greatest offerings from their mobile OS. Its a conundrum for sure.

Honestly, I'd be more interested in WP7 if it wasn't open to 3rd party manufacturing... Microsoft (thus far) is taking as "closed" of a marketplace experience as Apple, so why not make their own line of phones like they have with Zune?

NesTle said,

most of the problem is with Android 1.5 (the first commercial version of android) , they now have stabilized the API.
And except some ****ty carrier or smartphone nothing is left on 1.5. the same can be said with the original iPhone a lots of apps have problem now.

1.5 and 1.6 only represent 25%, the rest is 2.1 (~40%) and 2.2 (~35%) and Froyo will have a huge push forward when Samsung will upgrade it's Galaxy S lineup.

Many devices like the Zio are still shipping with 1.6, and this is a massive difference in features, let alone application issues with the lack of OpenGL support in these older builds.

It may only be a % of the market, but there are problems.

Additionally, the 2.1, 2.2 builds were enough to cause massive problems as carriers moved to shove the versions out.

There is a thing with too much customization/fragmentation and this is what has kept Linux off the desktops and will hurt Android in the long run as well with people not able to expect a certain level of features from a product, destroying the Android name and presence as an OS offering.

Android also has the problem with the complexity of programming that is inherent with the Google specific Java libraries. Sure you get a lot of apps, but the quality of Apps on Android are significantly suffering. Compare the API offerings of Android and WP7, and even development of something complex with gestures and graphics in Silverlight on WP7 to Android and you again have a massive difference in features that Google needs to address, but in doing so will again fragment the OS again.

Zerosignull said,

Im sorry. But if you are expecting a better upgrade ability from MS ure in for a shock. They have the WORST track record of partners upgrading windows mobile phones to new versions.

Microsoft is taking the same approach Apple has been doing. The push the updates through the Zune software for large updates with the addition to over-the-air updates for smaller ones. The experience is controlled by Microsoft. It isn't up to the carriers or the manufactures to evaluate the updates. So whatever you update you're running on your WP7 phone, everyone else is likely doing the same.

REM2000 said,
With his track record on making comments on competitors, he needs to really hush down until wp7 is a success in the marketplace.
Why..? It's called marketing. Microsoft needs to give WP7 good press, otherwise companies will spread crap around about it.

Like Vista, it was kinda clunky at first, but got way better, but companies (Apple) kept spreading lies about it around. We don't want people saying that about WP7 which is great.

Kirkburn said,
"Microsoft is planning to partner with a big London based radio station in the UK"

Do we know which? Capital FM?

BBC Radio 1?

Kirkburn said,
"Microsoft is planning to partner with a big London based radio station in the UK"

Do we know which? Capital FM?


I reckon it could be LBC 97.3

Tom W said,

BBC can't partner commercially on these types of things. I think you can guess which one it is

Zomg Real Radio?

Kirkburn said,
"Microsoft is planning to partner with a big London based radio station in the UK"

Do we know which? Capital FM?

I know they've partnered with Absolute for Bing promotions in the past.