On February 28 Microsoft is going to release the ‘consumer preview’ (what used to be called a beta until Google destroyed the meaning of the term) of Windows 8. Microsoft has already released a developer preview of Windows 8 but it’s intentionally missing features as they work out some of the details and that build really was intended for developers to start testing out their code and to see some of the new features. But despite the known limitations, the developer preview hit 500,000 downloads in its first night. What kind of download figures can we expect with the Windows 8 consumer preview? Well Windows 7 was initially intended to be limited to 2.5m downloads and on the first day they removed that cap due to demand. In the end, they had more than 8 million beta testers for Windows 7. Windows 7 was widely anticipated (particularly because Vista was such a flop) but the buzz around Windows 8 seems to be a lot larger due to the massive change in UI and overhaul to the OS that does not require updated hardware but is still set to hit the ultrabook and tablet market hard. What does this all mean? Well it seems reasonable to assume that they’ll break the 8m beta testers mark without a problem. And there are no reliable numbers of Windows Phone users but the numbers being floated around the web tend to be between 10m-12.5m . Now Nokia and a marketing blitz are going to hit the US (well AT&T at least) on March 18 but the spread between Windows Phone licenses and Windows 8 beta users may be very narrow, if there is any.
Why does any of this matter? Well Windows Phone apps are said to be up to 90% portable to Windows 8. But from a developer perspective I think we’re nearing the point where developers need to begin targeting Windows 8 and if needed take time off of Windows Phone development to do that. The reverse is also true though. If it really is very easy to recycle code between the two platforms, then a lot of new developers that are coming in to target Windows 8 may realize that the time to port to Windows Phones (and get some feedback and hit the market now) is worth it. It’s a bit of a shell game but the end result is a lot of WP devs moving to W8 and at the same time a lot of W8 devs moving to WP dev…end result? win – win