LAS VEGAS – March 15, 2010 – Charlie Kindel, one of the key thinkers behind the Windows Phone 7 Series development platform that’s being unveiled today here at MIX10, admits he’s the kind of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. Talk to him about technology, and his passion bursts at the seams.
Charlie Kindel will play a key role in the development of the Windows Phone 7 Series platform, as he works with developers to spread the word about the new operating system’s capabilities. Here he catches some air on a wakeboard, one of this spare-time activities.
Now that he’s done leading the engineering efforts to build a development platform for the new Windows Phone, he’s ready to take his passion on the road and pitch it to developers.
“Evangelism is a great word to describe what we do,” says Kindel, partner group program manager for the Windows Phone 7 Developer Experience. “In many ways, if you want to be successful in getting a platform adopted, you need to get people to believe. You need them to have faith that the tools and opportunities are really great and exciting.”
His role as evangelist officially begins today in Las Vegas at MIX10, a three-day conference for Web developers and designers. After a month of hearing little about how to build games and apps for the Windows phone, developers at the conference are being introduced to the Windows Phone 7 Series development tools and given a tour of the platform, which uses both XNA Game Studio and Silverlight.
Onstage at MIX, Kindel will announce the availability of Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, which is specifically designed for building Windows Phone applications and is now available free in a single download at http://developer.windowsphone.com. Visual Studio 2010 Express includes an emulator that will allow developers to build and test their applications directly on their PCs in a virtualized Windows Phone 7 OS environment. That means developers won’t need the phone hardware to get started at building phone apps.
Kindel will also tell attendees they can get a free version of Microsoft Expression Blend specifically designed to help them build apps for the new phone. They can use it to build graphical interfaces for Silverlight applications.
As Kindel views it, the aim of the new tools is to give developers a “friction-free” way to build Windows Phone 7 Series applications and games. The goal is to make developers “super-productive very quickly” building “innovative and beautiful user experiences.”
Perhaps no one is more prepared to tell developers what the new suite of Windows Phone tools can do.
The longtime Microsoft employee joined the phone team a little more than a year ago. Previously he was focused on designing and building Windows Home Server from the ground up, which he viewed as a perfect job. “In many ways, I was living the dream,” he says. “I had plugged away for many, many years at Microsoft on the big idea that I had about enabling the connected home and building a home server.”
Then he was approached by Andy Lees, senior vice president of the Mobile Communications Business, about joining an effort to redesign Microsoft’s mobile phone offering.
Kindle soon became part of the team that was making big changes on everything from the core engineering systems to the partner ecosystem. Now, a year later and with the new Windows Phone coming out in the upcoming holiday season, Kindel is proud of what’s coming. But the job isn’t done yet, he said. Now it’s time to get the people who will build the applications and games that will run on the new phone excited.
Kindel will do it by sharing his passion, which has been burning for a long time. As he likes to joke: “People will say, ‘My first experience on a computer was with a punch card.’ Well, when I started out with computers, we didn’t have ones; we only had zeros.”
When he was 10, Kindel visited his uncle’s factory in Michigan. His uncle sat him down in front of an Apple II and fired up a video game. As Kindel played Castle, he noticed the manual for the Applesoft programming language sitting next to the computer. He cracked it open and realized he could in essence break into the monitor and lift the source code. He did just that, modifying the game to the point it was no longer playable. He saved the file, shut off the computer, and never told his uncle.
Kindel was hooked by that little escapade. “That excitement always stuck with me,” he said, “that realization that, ‘Hey, you can go inside these things and change them and make them do interesting things.’”
The passion for computing hit a fever pitch when he was a college student in Arizona, where he started a business writing shareware. It was then, during the days of Windows 2.1, that he realized Microsoft’s OS would win. “I read the tea leaves then as a college student and decided I wanted to come work at Microsoft,” he said.
After graduating college in 1990, he left Arizona for the Pacific Northwest. His first job at Microsoft was supporting third-party developers on Windows 2.1 and 3.0. Even back then, he was focused on getting developers excited about Microsoft’s platform. He hopes to continue doing that today with the Windows Phone 7 Series development platform, because that’s what it will take to win in the mobile phone space, he said.
“More than anything, my job is to get all sorts of developers, both here at Microsoft and outside of it, to effectively do my job for me,” Kindel said. “And not because they’re marketers, or simply because they understand the story, but because they just know it’s the right thing. We’ll be successful when we have everybody else talking to everybody else about how great it is to build for this platform.”