Part of the big appeal of Windows Phone 7, at least from a developer’s perspective, is being able to code for a nice, uniform hardware base. With Microsoft setting standards for what hardware is required to run WP7, developers can worry less about optimizing code for low-end devices, or not being able to support them at all. While this has created a selection of devices that tends to lack innovation, we can’t deny that there’s some merit to the decision. That’s why it’s so odd to think about how Microsoft may be about to throw that conformity out the window, releasing the strict controls and allowing for the sales of cheaper, lower-end hardware running WP7.
Supposedly, Microsoft could be ready to announce this change this week at MIX, with the aim of letting new partner Nokia release budget-priced WP7 smartphones in an effort to reach a broader slice of the smartphone-buying community. What we haven’t heard anything about is the possibility for this latitude to allow for much higher-spec devices; it seems like there’s less interest in capturing that market niche.
If this rumor pans out, what will it mean for WP7 apps? Could today’s apps struggle to perform on WP7 hardware in the face of processor speed and memory limitations? We’ll have to wait for Microsoft to address that itself, if and when it makes its announcement.