The next version of Windows Phone is approaching, and Microsoft is looking for preview volunteers.
While the rest of the online world is all aflutter with news of Apple's iPhone 5 launch, Microsoft has chosen today to ask developers to put their hands up and volunteer themselves to try out its Windows Phone SDK 8.
But if you haven't developed for Windows Phone before, you will likely have a hard time getting your hands on the SDK.
"The objective is to let developers of our most-downloaded apps start optimising them for Windows Phone 8, and we expect the majority of published developers in this situation to qualify for access," wrote Todd Brix, Microsoft senior director for Windows Marketplace, in a blog post.
Why is Microsoft keeping its upcoming mobile platform under wraps? Brix said that the purpose is to generate excitement.
"I know that many of you want to know why we simply don't publicly release the full SDK now," wrote Brix.
"The reason is that not all Windows Phone 8 features have been announced, and our SDK includes comprehensive emulators that allow developers to test apps against a wide range of Windows Phone features. We recognise that this is a different approach to delivering tools than we've taken in the past. Our goal is to generate as much Windows Phone 8 excitement as possible to attract new customers when phones go on sale. This is one of many steps we're taking to help give you what you (and we) want most."
Presumably, the feedback that Microsoft received asked that it keep all the details of Windows Phone 8 to itself, and select chosen developers until Redmond's "excite-o-meter" is red hot.
Predictably, the comments under the announcement are a mixture of bemusement and sarcasm. Examples include comments such as: "There is no universe in which this makes sense"; "Is this some sort of cruel joke? If so, it's not funny. Really"; and "Seriously, this is incredibly lame".
Users of Windows Phone SDK 8 will need to be using Visual Studio 2012, which officially launched today, and will be able to target Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.5. The existing Windows Phone SDK 7.1 is also able to be installed alongside the new SDK in Visual Studio 2012 on Windows 8.
The scant details
Hen's teeth are more plentiful than the details offered to delegates of Microsoft's TechEd Australia 2012 conference.
In the opening session of the Windows Phone track, delegates peppered the presenters with questions on what Windows Phone 8 would offer them. Many of the questions fell under the "Sorry, I cannot talk about that" umbrella.
Chris Duckett attended TechEd Australia 2012 as a guest of Microsoft.