I was cruising the forums and came across a question posed by P. Roberts, a Symbian developer, regarding how big a loss he’s facing as a result of Nokia’s deal with Microsoft. Think if the Nokia people don’t mind I’ll copypasta this sucker so that if any of you have answers you can offer it to him or be enlightened that these are serious issues for developers that may come with the territory of getting into bed with Microsoft and Windows Phone as well as an example of what may be the mood over in the Nokia world:

I’ve spent the better part of today evaluating what migrating our Symbian software to WP7 would require. I’m guessing others here may be doing the same. Here are some limitations I’ve found for porting our Symbian app to WP7, but I’ve found info on WP7 to be a little inconsistent. Anyone here with WP7 experience that can elaborate or correct me on…
Are these correct for WP7?:

  • Users may not set custom ringtones (our app exports ringtones :( )
  • No OpenGL-ES
  • There is no support for third-party C/C++ on WP7 (unlike either iOS or NDK on Android – Our C/C++ code base would have to be re-coded in a .NET-supported language like C# or Visual Basic).
  • You can’t deliver any sort of native code library – everything is compiled to bytecode and run through a JIT-based VM. There are no intrinsics or vector-based instructions in the bytecode dictionary.
  • WP7 does not support third-party multitasking or background tasks. (UPDATE: Next release* to support third-party multitasking)
  • Third-party apps can not open network socket connections
  • No support in browser for any streaming – i.e. no HTML5, no Silverlight, no Flash. (UPDATE: Next release* to include streaming in browser)
  • Publishers are limited to a maximum of 5 free apps (UPDATE: $99 to publish up to 5 free apps, $20 each afterward)
  • OBEX is not supported
  • Only languages supported are: English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish (Q3/Q4 2011 will add Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and simplified Chinese)
  • Currently Apps can only be sold in: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and United States

*Update: Next Release info: According to

…my sources tell me that the first mega-patch for Windows Phone has sat undeployed on Microsoft’s servers because the software giant’s wireless carrier partners–contrary to another unfulfilled promise–have refused to OK it for release.

Hmmm….creating the most carrier-friendly smartphone OS apparently has some side effects.
Here’s an interesting SDA point:

5e. The Application must not include software, documentation, or other materials that, in whole or in part, are governed by or subject to an Excluded License, or that would otherwise cause the Application to be subject to the terms of an Excluded License.

"Excluded License" is defined as:

“Excluded License” means any license requiring, as a condition of use, modification and/or distribution of the software subject to the license, that the software or other software combined and/or distributed with it be (i) disclosed or distributed in source code form; (ii) licensed for the purpose of making derivative works; or (iii) redistributable at no charge. Excluded Licenses include, but are not limited to the GPLv3 Licenses. For the purpose of this definition, “GPLv3 Licenses” means the GNU General Public License version 3, the GNU Affero General Public License version 3, the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3, and any equivalents to the foregoing.

It would be nice if there was a provided list of excluded licenses. "in part redistributable at no charge" takes out a lot of libs.

So what’s the story, any of this true?

Doug Simmons


  1. It’s mostly true…mostly all known for a long long time and mostly all tied in to the fact that there’s no native code. Socket connections are a part of the Mango update. There is streaming in the browser depending on the type of file (well it opens the video player but then it’s full screen so it’s better anyway). Yup, no limit to paid apps but the market discourages free apps (you know, like Androids market) so you have to pay after the 5th free app.
    Oh and it’s not that the update is just sitting undeployed. MS changed a way some apps scroll for copy and paste to work better. What’s likely happening is the carriers wanted 30 days to fix their apps so they would work with copy and paste when the update hits.
    None of this is shocking/new though.

  2. Just some small corrections:

    “Third-party apps can not open network socket connections”
    That’s supposed to be available with the new dev tools and the second update in 2.H 2011. Wait for MIX11 developer conference in April for more details.

    “No support in browser for any streaming – i.e. no HTML5, no Silverlight, no Flash. (UPDATE: Next release* to include streaming in browser)”
    This is true. IE on WP7 currently doesn’t support SL, Flash or the HTML5 video tag. However, the browser opens H264 files just fine, which enables video streaming with .mp4 files for example.

    The rest is correct.

  3. What’s likely happening is the carriers wanted 30 days to fix their apps so they would work with copy and paste when the update hits.

    You’re right, that’s not shocking; but I thought I read here a zillion times how Microsoft would have full control over all code pushing from Seattle to the phones and that the carriers, unlike with Android, could not ever present an update roadblock.

    You’re saying that’s false?

  4. Does Microsoft have any plans to somehow implement an OpenGL ES API or something to translate into whatever the DirectX could handle so that the developers don’t have to rewrite their methods of graphics rendering? Which runs on more than one platform, DirectX or OpenGL ES? And are we talking a nominal amount, like just one more platform?

    How about providing software that would effectively help convert C++ to .NET and C#? Is the porting thing expected only to be a minor nuisance to Nokia developers? Do Nokia developers outnumber WP7 developers buy a lot or a whole lot?

    What about app markets geographically, do either Nokia or Microsoft have a strong presence in places like .. everywhere other than just the US? Any implications to Nokia developers and consumers on that front?

    Do you think this deal will result in more Symbian developers moving forward to program for WP7 or for Android and / or iOS?

    Whatever, Symbian’s dying anyway and WP7 will leapfrog it any second.

  5. no simmons, hes not saying thats false, what hes saying is that microsoft changed the update… its only fair to give the carriers another 30 days from any changes made to the update… 30 day rule still in full effect…

  6. the excluded license bit only affects viral copyleft licenses such as the gpl which *require* source code redistribution. other open source licenses such as bsd, apache or the mit license should still be kosher.

  7. kyubbi42: You sure about that? I wasn’t going to bring up the whole open source thing but are you sure it’s limited to GPL v3? Even though it says “not limited to” that license?Because in Microsoft’s application provider agreement, possibly without saying BSD this or Apache that anywhere else, it defines unwelcome software that gets a check mark on any of these three: (i) disclosed or distributed in source code form; (ii) licensed for the purpose of making derivative works; or (iii) redistributable at no charge.

    In other words the source doesn’t have to be in some text files in the folder you open up when starting the program or on the Microsoft market. The way that reads the source doesn’t even have to be at play at all (though it is a dealbreaker in itself obviously). The way I read that is any software that requires all distribution to be free is no good and you may not make reserve the right to make a deal with anyone, free or otherwise, to take anything you made and put on Microsoft’s app market including a library belonging to what a thing you made and make something else using that thing. If you made the VLC media you couldn’t let someone have the PNG behind your play button to use in their triangle program. Actually that wouldn’t apply to you because VLC would be prohibited from this market which is too bad because I don’t know of a better video player. Anyone know of a better player than VLC? Anyone think this will yield a better market and prevent it from devolving into something dirty and Android-like?

    That’s too bad about VLC, but hey, Apple uses this licensing structure so, obviously, so should Microsoft.

  8. IANAL but the key word as I read it is “requires”. They define excluded licenses as licenses which *require* source code to be released, *require* derivative works to use the same license and/or *require* the application be released free of charge.

    As far as I can tell, the BSD and apache licenses don’t violate any of the above.

    It essentially sounds like they don’t want “copyleft” licensed programs in the app store. The gpl is the most common/popular copyleft license, but not the only one.

  9. The gpl states that anyone “conveying” software licensed under the gpl must ensure that the source is accessible to those receiving the software. This means that by selling gpl’d apps, *microsoft* not the developer must ensure that the source is accessible.

    This makes more work for them (sorting gpl’d apps from non-gpl’d apps, figuring out how to distribute source to people who have purchased the app, etc), and would be a legal nightmare if they ever made a mistake, the FSF would jump all over them. Their reasoning is probably that it’s better in the long run to avoid it all.

  10. This dev sounds like some 60 year old who was already done with IT and this just helped him make the choice to retire.

    Yes, it’s a different platform with different capabilities. Seeing how Nokia can pull some strings, perhaps they can get sockets support sooner or provide some kind of app conversion utilities.

    Not everyone deals well with change. This guy will be pit of a job and some other Symbian dev will step in to take his place. See ya loser.

  11. Hmm.. Well hey, I got to hand it to Microsoft. I’m looking at a Q4 pie chart on Wikipedia of worldwide smartphone share of sales to end users right now.. hang on, guess I’ll dig it up:

    WP7’s represented, along with who knows what other platforms, as Other in this chart. Whereas not only is Symbian just a hair behind number one, Android, this chart does not take into account Symbian phones from Fujitsu, Sony, Sharp and Samsung and if it did Symbian would have been the top. So Symbian was the most dished-out platform last year. Maybe not on top shelf handsets like what WP7’s on, but still, number one. I know that the trend for them is southern, but Microsoft isn’t blowing up at all with success.

    I admit I didn’t read enough about the arrangement as I should have were I to write even a comment let alone some article but just from the way it smells it feels like Nokia is the company thanking its lucky stars to have fallen into Microsoft’s good graces in order to save their souls.

    What I don’t get is why Nokia and RIM didn’t strike up such a deal. If this matters they’re in many respects more evenly matched than Nokia and Microsoft and complement each other in such was as the worth of the companies (and that their focus isn’t diluted too far from just phones), they both have a diverse and large array of devices with a history of digesting evolution into new platforms, they’re both feeling the Android and iPhone pain, they’re both pretty worldwide, it seems like it would be less of a risk for Nokia to pull the rug out from underneath itself to dive into a platform that’s actually still selling versus one that isn’t but might way down the road.

    Does Nokia really see Microsoft, even with Nokia’s help, at this point as the little engine that might? Did the Nokia executives behind this just feel really cornered?

    Am I mistaken that the biggest incentive in this for Nokia is to need to employ much fewer people by handing a lot of the reigns over to another company, a potential bargain with Microsoft as while they don’t have any popularity they at least have, by almost all accounts I’ve heard they’ve got the software side figured out? As in they’ve got the goods but Nokia’s got the presence — is that what makes them a good match more than anything else?

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