Last night I got to meet with Koji Kato from the Windows Live Developer Platform team (formerly of the Tablet PC team) and spoke with him about the developer push they are making with Windows Live. It appears as though getting 3rd party developers involved with the Windows Live platform could be the key to establishing Windows Live as more than just a replacement for MSN, however at the same time it is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks facing Microsoft. Developers seem reluctant to experiment with the new offerings, leaving no choice but for Microsoft to encourage participation by providing incentives. The latest offering is a bots for Messenger contest with $40,000 worth of prizes, which Leah posted about yesterday. As Leah notes, even if you aren't a developer this is something that will indirectly benefit you, though it might be worth trying to code something with prizes like those! The Custom Domains team is running a more low-key competition regarding their SDK. We recently did an interview with Ken Levy from the platform team, which MJF from Microsoft-Watch has followed up with Ken on. Here's what she got from him:
[T]the company is readying a new Windows Live Dev portal. A preview of the site, http://dev.live.com, will be available the week of May 21, with a final version slated to launch in June, according to company officials.
Koji said that one of the biggest aims for the upcoming developer portal is that it should eventually become a self-help venue, but for this to happen it will require a critical number of developers being actively involved with the platform. Here's where they bring in the Windows Live Developer MVPs, in an attempt to replicate the success of the Windows MVPs. I'm not sure how well they will do with this, after all it has taken Windows over 10 years to get this far, but if you are a developer there could not be a better time to start playing around with the SDK's that Microsoft is offering. (Grab a copy of Visual Studio Express and you are good to go.) We're expecting the final launch of the developer portal to coincide with Tech-Ed 2006, but as with all things Live, this is subject to last minute change. Read more: Windows Live Puts More Muscle Behind Its Developer Push Windows Live Developer Center