A few year ago, around 2006 at a guess, I saved up a bit of my hard-earned dollar and bought a Dell Axim X51v. It was a wonderful little device for the time and I fancied having a go at writing software for it.
So I went to the Microsoft website to find out how to do that, where I was confronted with a request for more cash. In order to write a line of code for Windows Mobile at that time, you had to shell out for licenses to use Microsoft’s IDE and developer tools. That’s on top of whatever fees that MS was getting from Dell and the license I’d bought with the device to actually run Windows Mobile.
Naturally, I baulked at the idea and never gave it a go.
Nor have I bought anything from Microsoft since – although that wasn’t a conscious decision. It’s just that since then, there hasn’t been anything that wanted to do in terms of development that mandated some kind of payment. Case in point – my faithful little HTC Magic, succeeded by my Samsung Galaxy S mobile phones. These phones are thoroughly awesome bits of kit which run on Android technology, and recently I had my first dabble in Android development.
Of course, everything you need to write software for Android is freely available on the web, and you can expect a post of two about how that’s going.
Out of curiosity, I checked back in on Microsoft, and it sure looks like you can write for Windows Mobile these days for free. Would it still cost money to write for Windows Mobile if the competition wasn’t giving away their goodies for free? I also had a look at Apple’s tooling to build stuff for the iPhone but I couldn’t work out if it’s free right now or not. (I couldn’t be bothered to look for more than a minute or two to be honest – any readers know?)
I wonder if my decisions since then would have played out any differently if I’d been able to just download the stuff I’d needed to have a go back on ’06? Who knows, I might have gotten hooked on the Microsoft toolset like Visual Studio.