Microsoft entices WebOS developers toward another doomed smartphone OS

Promise of free support draws ISVs toward Windows Phone 'Mango'

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It may have been completely obvious from the beginning that WebOS was going nowhere and HP was foolish to pursue it.

It wasn't obvious to anyone how dramatically HP was going to react to a failure it should have expected.

In retrospect, it should also have been obvious that other companies would circle in like vultures to pick at whatever is still valuable among the remains.

According to the criteria of virtualization and operating-system vendors, the most valuable commodity is developers who are willing to build applications for your platform.

Without developers all you have is a big fat piece of software that will make a computer run but not do anything of any value to the person that bought it.

Apple has always been standoffish with developers; Google has always been welcoming toward developers, but is too big, a little too self-important and definitely too reserved to go chasing after them. (That reserve is actually similar to the open-source movement's priority on volunteerism and the avoidance of coercion; if you don't want to work on something, no one should try to persuade you, even by paying you to change your mind.)

Microsoft on the other hand...

Well, you remember the Monkeyboy dance. That' was Steve Ballmer emphasizing at a company meeting how important it is to recruit developers for Windows.

In a tweet Friday the head of Microsoft's Windows Phone developer recruitment program promised WebOS developers anything they need to make their apps work on Windows Phone.

To Any Published WebOS Devs: We'll give you what you need to be successful on #WindowsPhone, incl.free phones, dev tools, and training, etc. – @BrandonWatson

Competitive upgrades – a drastic discount or bonus for switching from a competitor's product to one from Microsoft – are a time-honored and successful tradition at Microsoft.

It's good to see it continue with Windows Phone, which continues to lose share even in a market for smartphones that's growing so quickly makers of Android and iOS devices can hardly keep up.

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