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Microsoft To Employees – Make WP7 Apps (For Free)

So we now have a leaked Microsoft email from Andy Lees to employees which tells them about the free phones they’ll be getting and it also advises them to get to know WP7 and to sell it. And while they’re at it, they should make apps for it. previously there was an internal memo reminding employees that they are employees of a company and essentially to not compete with MS. To employees it’s clearly been taken as a warning that they cannot profit from WP7 apps but we’ll see how it plays out. Anyway, because of the length, hit the break for the complete email to employees and the info we have about the ‘free’ nature of their development.

From: Andy Lees
To: “Microsoft – All Employees
Subject: Getting you in the game with Windows Phone 7

Momentum is building for Windows Phone 7! Last week we released the WP7 Tech Preview and beta development tools on the web, and started shipping phones to developers and some early reviewers. Excitement will continue to build as we accelerate to launch for Fall, disclosing more details on final hardware design from our partners, unique applications, and Xbox Live games and much more!


With all the buzz, a lot of you are asking how you can get your hands on a phone and get more involved. So, I am thrilled to announce that a new Windows Phone 7 will be made available to every Microsoft employee as we launch in each market around the world. The process will vary based on your market, your carrier, and your launch date so stay tuned for more information closer to launch.

Andy Lees

When you get your phone, the first thing you can do it MAKE IT PERSONAL! Pick up the phone, turn it on, download mail, get directions, make calls, find friends…. In short USE IT! The experience of Windows Phone 7 is special and a big step toward our future in the mobile phone business. We’d love all of you to love it as much as we on the team love it. To do that we need to you to use your phone and find the things that make it personal and valuable to you.

There is also a lot you can do while we are heading to launch even before you get your phone including:

Understand the unique value of Windows Phone 7 and evangelize to your customers, partners, friends and family! Windows Phone 7 is a different kind of phone, designed to bring together the things you care about most. The new smart design makes even basic tasks more efficient while Windows Phone Hubs organize the web and applications to simplify what you do every day. It is much more than a phone operating system, it is software and services integrated to create a new type of experience. WP7 has been a cross company effort bringing together an amazing breadth of Microsoft assets for the first time including Windows, Windows Live, Bing, Zune, Xbox Live, Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Silverlight, .NET, XNA and Visual Studio!


Develop! With the help of the developer division, we just shipped the Final Beta of the Windows Phone Developer Tools. They absolutely rock, and you should download them now The package includes everything you need to start building apps. In addition, we’ve introduced a new employee developer program which makes it much easier for you to develop apps for Marketplace in your spare time. … And if you need some help jumpstarting your development, check out the Windows Phone Developer Training Kit. …

Get involved in launch. Dedicate time to get involved as WP7 launches in your market. …

We can’t wait to launch. We’ve got a great product and a great team in all of you. There is a phone being built with your name on it! Get in the game of delighting the world with Windows Phone 7! …


The email source is TechFlash via MobileTechWorld. As for the ‘free’ development, from the Mini Microsoft Blog it was posted:

Anyone see the large mail today, "FTE Only – Announcing the MS Employee WP7 Developer Program"?
Knowing many employees are profiting today building successful phone apps for other platforms, it’s surprising that the company felt it had to create a crippling program here – it took so many pages of text to tell employees:
– Your employee agreement … anything you create that is related … thus you have no right to build an app or game that profits from those inventions.
– If you want, you can get a license from Microsoft for your intellectual property to be used in WP7 apps and games
– The goal of the program is for you to have fun
– It is NOT a goal of this program to enable Microsoft employees to get rich, launch startups, or compete with Microsoft.
(Did Bill Gates have a similar policy in place when he and others created patents for some of their ideas?)
How many man-years of work did this program cost legal to create? Should a Partner GPM really spend him time drafting text for a failed platform when he could be attempting to fix a sinking ship?
Given many employees are already successful moonlighting and within policy, and dealing with the legal issues, why create a program that is crippling and babying employees?
Do I not own my e-mails sent to family and friend about ideas on the weekends? Sounds like it’s owned by the company and I need a license for it!

Just to clarify, generally speaking if you use your work email for private matters then yes, your employer has a right to read those emails, etc, but that’s sort of beside the point. I get that MS doesn’t want its employees to compete with it and they want them to devote their time on what MS wants and not what the employee wants but really, if an employee crosses that line shouldn’t the result just be a move in division? I mean, if you have a good dev, let them develop in house or else they’ll just leave and take their profits and ideas with them. Again, I still reserve judgment until the MS policy plays out a little more but MS needs to make their employees happy or else they’ll have far less people to pitch their ideas.