A few Microsoft properties have received grief the last couple of years about shipping features, or even entire apps, on non-Microsoft platforms before those same features or apps come to Windows and Windows Phone. I talked to a friend about this a few months ago, and as rumors swirl that Office for iPad may arrive before a Metro/Modern version of Office for Windows 8.x I thought I’d relay his explanation.
What groups inside Microsoft are finding, just as third-party developers have found, is that the API set in WinRT and on Windows Phone is deficient compared to Android and IOS. So the development team envisions a feature they want to add. It takes them a couple of days to implement that feature for Android or IOS. But for Windows/Windows Phone they get into a cycle of negotiating a feature request with the OS team and then waiting for an OS update that includes the feature. That can take man-weeks of effort and many months of elapsed time.
Now the app or services team faces a dilemma. They can wait the many months for the Windows support to appear while they lose competitive ground, or they can ship their feature on Android and IOS as soon as their own update schedule allows and play catch-up on Windows. Years ago they most likely would have taken the hit to their own business in order to protect the Windows franchise. However in an age where Microsoft is an underdog in many areas that is no longer considered a viable way to do business. Thus we will sometimes see features or entire apps on non-Microsoft platforms before we see them on Windows/Windows Phone.
Now of course this really should be putting pressure on the OS team to expose a greater and more competitive set of features through their modern API sets. This is something third-party app developers are getting rather vocal about as well. So on one hand a lot of Microsoft fans are going to get upset as functionality comes to Android and IOS before appearing on the various flavors of Windows. On the other, they should be happy that Microsoft teams are putting a lot of internal pressure on the OS team that in the medium to long-term will greatly improve Windows as a modern app platform.