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Developing for Windows Phone

February 2, 2013

Its now been a year since I first got involved with Windows Phone, and I have just received my first ever revenue payment for app sales from Microsoft! In this post I share my experiences coming from an iOS background, good and bad.

First of all, the Windows Phone UI is very refreshing, the devices look good and its a very different user experience from iOS and Android (competition is good for the industry). I really like the way Microsoft support free trials of apps, and you can also tweak pricing in different countries (although I have yet to use that feature).

C# is horrible of course, I much prefer Objective-C. But then again I personally pre-date Java so perhaps younger software developers will like it. 🙂

Thankfully I didn’t have to do much of the coding myself!

Developer portal

The Microsoft developer portal is OK, with nice download and sales graphs, and easy access to customer reviews (with translation). Like Apple, Microsoft don’t let developers respond to reviews, which is a big shame – most of the negative ones are because people don’t bother to read the documentation!

Initially sales reports were 6 days out of date! Coming from Apple, where you nearly always get today’s sales figures by 11am tomorrow, this was pretty shocking.

Microsoft seem to have improved it to only being 2 days behind, but why can’t they be in real time or hourly? If you make a price change or have a promotion, you want see what effect it is having immediately, not a few days later!

App sales and payments

This is the main reason developers write apps. While you can see how many sales you are getting (albeit 2 days out of date), it takes Microsoft MONTHS to pay you anything (even assuming you exceed their $200 threshold). Their excuse is that “mobile operator billing can take up to 120 days”.

What’s more, you don’t get any indication of how much or when a payment will be made into your bank account. In fact they only tell you 2 weeks AFTER you have been paid!

By contrast, Apple is slick, with monthly reports per region a week or two after the end of each month, and the money for this month’s sales will be in my account by the end of next month. I know in advance exactly what will be paid and on what date. It has been that way since 2009!


February 2012 – first approached about doing a Windows Phone version of Account Tracker
May 2012 – designs completed and agreed by Microsoft
June 2012 – development started in earnest
August 2012 – version 1.0 submitted to Microsoft (hidden on Marketplace)
September/October 2012 – version 1.1 submitted to Microsoft and app officially launched!
February 2013 – first ever payment report from Microsoft for app sales

So that is 9 months from starting on the design to first payment, not so good for cash flow!!


Account Tracker made it to the top of the personal finance section in many countries. It has been very well received, with press publicity and multiple features on Marketplace.

It hit 1000 downloads in 2 weeks, 5000 by December and 10000 by January. Sadly actual sales are well below these figures. 😦

Note that the conversion rate from trial versions to paid is FAR worse than on iOS! I don’t know why this is.