Mobile Ink Jots 1: ISV Partner Programs
Summary: Describes support programs available for software developers who are creating applications that run on Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Readers need not be previously familiar with the Tablet PC Platform API. (5 printed pages)
Welcome to the new Mobile Ink Jots column. Because Mobile Ink Jots is the place to come for regular announcements of Tablet PC development news, tips, information, and the occasional rumor, we thought that rather than starting off by discussing a specific programming idea, we'd use the initial column to highlight some of the places you can go to for full backing and partnership for your Tablet PC applications. This month, we'll take a whirlwind tour of the various independent software vendor (ISV) programs you may be interested in joining as a Tablet PC application developer.
We've identified over 300 ISV's writing applications for the Microsoft® Windows® XP Tablet PC Edition operating system. Many of those ISV's have joined the Microsoft Tablet PC ISV partner program to take advantage of benefits like:
- Co-marketing arrangements.
- Technical training at Microsoft-sponsored developer labs.
- Vendor listing in the Tablet PC application catalog.
- Technical support.
Levels of Application Integration
The Microsoft Tablet PC ISV partner program defines three levels of application integration for applications that run on the Tablet PC platform. In increasing order of integration, these are ISV-supported, pen-centric, and pen-perfect. Let's examine these levels a little more.
An ISV-supported application simply means that the ISV supports the application on a computer running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. The criteria for having an ISV-supported application are:
- The application passes the ISV's own acceptance criteria when the application is running on a Tablet PC
- The ISV supports users running the application on the Tablet PC
- Users can install the application by using just a pen. No keyboard is required.
- The application runs in both landscape and portrait orientation.
An example of an ISV-supported application is Microsoft® Streets & Trips.
At the next level, pen-centric applications have been optimized for running on the Tablet PC. For example, a pen-centric application should:
- Support context awareness (For more information about context awareness see the Tablet PC Developers Kit version 1.7, in Beta as of this publication).
- Use the Tablet PC Platform API to enable a defined role for Ink where appropriate.
- Support use of the pen.
- Adhere to an appropriate subset of the Tablet PC Design Guidelines.
- Support ink interoperability with support for the Clipboard.
Examples of pen-centric applications at the time of this writing include Microsoft InfoPath™, Microsoft Office 2003, and MSN® Messenger.
The highest echelon of Tablet PC application integration is made up of those applications that are pen-perfect. In pen-perfect applications, the entire application is optimized for the Tablet PC. This means that the application:
- Adheres to Tablet PC Design Guidelines.
- Natively supports ink interoperability.
- Uses the pen as pointing device.
- Optimizes for handedness settings.
- Uses gestures as part of its user interaction model as appropriate.
- Uses handwriting recognition as appropriate.
Examples of pen-perfect applications are Windows Journal and Microsoft OneNote™.
Levels of Membership in the Tablet PC ISV Partner Program
The Tablet team is building an ISV partner program, currently with two defined levels of membership: Alliance members and Premiere members. We are working out the final details now, so some of this may change. As of this writing we're looking at the two levels defined below. We would love to hear your comments about what we need to do to help drive awareness of your applications. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To become an Alliance member, just register by sending mail to the email@example.com alias. You will need to show that your application is ISV-certified, as described earlier in this column. At the Alliance level you receive:
- Help on building a case study of large Tablet PC deployments.
- Inclusion in Tablet PC application catalog.
- Access to an application Wish List.
- Monthly Tablet PC development newsletter.
- Beta-place participation and access to Beta builds.
- Quarterly Live Meeting technical chats.
To step up to the next level of membership, the Premiere level, you will need to have a pen-centric application that has been recognized by Microsoft and a business plan which supports an investment (minimal investment in the order of US$15,000 per year) from your company for marketing awareness of your application.
Note There will be a limit to the number of Premier customers we can support. We are currently determining investment levels and recognition criteria as well as the details of the benefits for this program. Once we complete our analysis we'll formally introduce the program to our ISV community. We'd love to work with you if you think your application is pen-centric and you're committed to building your investment in this platform.
At the Premiere level, you receive:
- 'Inclusion in a Solutions Demo Kit that gets distributed to corporations, ISVs, OEMs, and others.
- Co-marketing assistance.
- Featured Application status in the Tablet PC Application Catalog.
- Invitation to OEM/ISV conferences.
- Feature coverage in the monthly newsletter.
- Access to the Market Place Forum.
- Access to and ability to work with us on a Go-to-Market Calendar.
- Annual briefing on Tablet PC directions from the Microsoft Director or General Manager level.
Additionally, premiere members have access to:
- Technical Evangelists for support.
- Private newsgroups.
- Access to early Tablet PC builds.
- Developer labs (a multiple-day activity, usually at the Microsoft Redmond campus where we work closely with you).
- Help with support incident through various subsidies.
- Annual on-campus product roadmaps.
For more information about how to join the Microsoft ISV partner program, send mail to TabISV@microsoft.com.
You might not know that there are also ISV partner programs with some of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) as well. These programs are in place to help developers create solutions for the Tablet PC. They set up formal business relationships to provide you with training, support, access to marketing programs, and participation in events. Best of all, some programs offer special rates on hardware to registered developers (not just for a Tablet PC, either). Let's look at the details of some of these OEM ISV programs.
HP Partner Program
HP's Tablet PC Developer and Solution Partner Program has two levels. The first level is a free membership program that provides special developer discounts on a broad range of HP equipment, ranging from servers to handheld devices. According to HP, the discount on the HP Tablet PC is 18% in the US! This level also includes access to developer marketing programs and participation in training and events. For more information about HP's DSPP, go to http://www.hp.com/dspp.
The second level of HP's program consists of a direct relationship with a limited set of strategic ISV's and system integrators. This program makes loaner equipment available for testing, validation, and events. It also provides for joint marketing through press releases, case studies, and a featured spot for your software on HP's Tablet PC solutions web page at http://www.hp.com/go/tabletpcsolutions.
Acer Partner Program
Acer has a developer program called the Acer ISV Alliance Program. Acer's program gives you:
- Special hardware pricing.
- Access to marketing programs.
- An ISV newsletter and calendar of events.
- Joint press releases.
- Special partner-only web seminars and more.
Fujitsu Partner Program
Fujitsu's program has two levels—Standard and Gold—and provides participants with:
- Access to the Fujitsu Mobile Alliance Program Extranet.
- Your product information in a program database.
- A quarterly newsletter.
- Future product information.
- Free technical support assistance.
- Discounted access to sales engineers.
- Hardware discounts.
- Discounted marketing event access.
- And more, depending on what level you sign up for.
You can sign up for the program at the Fujitsu Mobile Alliance Web site.
Motion Computing Partner Program
Motion Computing's Partner Program has three levels of participation, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each level is designed to compliment the needs of independent software and hardware partners without any investment from the partner. The Silver program drives the development of ink and pen enabled solutions for the Tablet PC. Specifically, the Silver program includes:
- Significant discount on development tablets
- Access to a software development engineer
- Software Development Kit (SDK)
Gold and Platinum participation builds on the Silver program. Specifically, the upper tier partners receive:
- Funding for co-marketing
- Discounted sales demonstration units
- Access to priority technical support
- Sales assistance program; 60-day customer pilot assistance for client development
For more information, please see details on the Motion Computing partner page.
All of these programs have one goal in common: to help you build and sell great Tablet PC applications as quickly, easily, and successfully as possible. Finally, even with all these programs, you might still be looking for motivation to get your company started on your Tablet PC application. Visit http://www.doesyourappthinkinink.com/ for 100,000 reasons why you should get started today!
For more information about ISV partner programs, visit our ISV partner page.