Why Microsoft started the Employee developer program for Windows Phone 7

There’s been a lot of talk ever since Microsoft announced last week that every employee will receive a free Windows Phone 7 handset and given the opportunity to develop applications for the platform. One thing that many of you probably don’t know is that when you work for a software company like Microsoft every single line of your code is usually owned by the company. This means that depending on their actual contract many Microsoft employees couldn’t create WP7 applications and then sell them on the Marketplace. The company has decided to change this rule and start the Employee Developer program to allow them to develop Windows Phone 7 applications and profit from them. Read the full statement posted by Brandon Watson after the break:

In the last couple of days since Andy’s announcement that all employees would get free Windows Phone 7s, we’ve seen a lot of buzz about the offer, including some around why we were doing it.

So why did we do it? Put simply, we did it for the employees. If you speak to any software developer or hacker, they will tell you that they love writing code. They love solving problems. They love creating things. They love sharing their work with their friends and peers. They love the satisfaction of seeing something work on a screen. Unfortunately, when you work for a company, most of them generally have pretty stringent rules about moonlighting, and the ownership of IP. For software companies, this usually includes code and side projects. Microsoft is no different.

With this new mobile app era upon us, the Windows Phone team felt it important that we enable our own employees to participate. There are so many talented, technical people at Microsoft. It’s not just professional software developers…many Microsofties love coding, and they work on projects in their spare time.

We believe most Microsofties want to write apps for Windows Phone 7. Before last week, and the changes announced in our policies, they couldn’t. They would not have been able to profit from those projects. We made these changes specifically to address the desire of our own employees to express themselves in code in the app marketplace. A funny thing happens when you remove friction and barriers among a group of creative people. I can’t wait to see what they create.

The internal response has been overwhelming. I can’t count the number of languages in which we heard “thank you” while at our global sales summit last week.

Via Brandon Watson