Windows 8 App Developer Says Process Stinks
After 10 months of work, including winning a Microsoft app contest, developer says he's still unable to get the app past the Windows Store approval process.
As self-described "long-time Windows developer" and enthusiast Jeffrey Harmon reported Wednesday on his blog, he began work on an app for Windows 8--to be sold via the Windows Store--in December 2011. Dubbed Memorylage, the application is designed for viewing and sharing photos; making collages; and taking photo-booth-style photos, using the new Windows UI.
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To sharpen his Windows 8 development skills, Harmon said he used vacation time from his day job to attend a three-day Application Excellence Labs program hosted by Microsoft at its office in Waltham, Mass., earlier this year. On the final day, his app won an "App X contest" hosted by Microsoft. One of the prizes included face time with a field engineer from Microsoft, who flew out from Redmond and reviewed his app, using a 60-point checklist, all to help him secure early access to the store.
[Are they sure? Microsoft: 100,000 Windows 8 Apps Coming.]
Harmon submitted his app to the Windows Store for review on Aug. 29, hoping to get an edge on any potential competitors before the official Windows 8 release in October. "With only 500 apps in the store, and almost 2 months before general release of Windows 8, I was feeling pretty good about the work I had put into it," he wrote in his blog. "A day later though, I got the first of what would be many failure reports," which said that the application had failed on four fronts.
So Harmon added fixes--as best he could, given the "vague" error documentation provided by Microsoft--and resubmitted the application. Ultimately, however, the app failed the store-review process a total of six times, leading Harmon to blog this week that "I still don't know what is causing the failure."
"Windows 8 is a great opportunity for developers, but as it stands, they are in for a world of hurt in trying to get through that last hurdle," he said, referring to the approval process. "As a long-time Windows developer, I really hope that changes soon."
Contacted by email, Harmon Friday said that since writing his blog post--which has already racked up 40,000 page views--he has yet to hear back from Microsoft. But he also emphasized that the blog post was meant to be a heads-up to Microsoft. "One of the reasons why I detailed how much effort went into creating the app, and mentioning the awards it won was so people didn't think I was just some person taking their first stab at development, and was unhappy I didn't get in on my first try," he said. "I have no problem failing, as I want there to be a high standard of quality, but if you are going to fail me, at least tell me why. Everyone at Microsoft that actually looked at the program has said it should pass, and it even made it into a technician's personal test store. I can't fix a bug that no one can find."
Despite the hiccup and potential lost business opportunity, Harmon remains an enthusiastic Windows 8 developer. "My experience was very positive up until submission," he said. "The tools are great, the documentation is extensive, there are plenty of samples out there, and Microsoft has been hosting tons of events around the country and online to help out."
"This is one reason why the failure at the last mile is so striking," he said. "It's not like Microsoft isn't trying here. They really are, but are just missing some basic things in the approval process."
[ Editor's Note: In an update to this story, Harmon contacted us late Friday to say that his app has finally been accepted. ]
Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)