MS offers free Windows phones, training to WebOS devs — gets 1K responses

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Following HP’s swift destruction of its webOS ecosystem last week, Microsoft stepped up on Friday to give webOS developers a new home with free Windows Phone devices, training, and tools.

Now, the company’s Senior Director of Windows Phone 7 development Brandon Watson, who made the initial plea to webOS devs via Twitter, says he’s received nearly 1,000 responses to the offer.

We’ve dropped a line to Watson to see if he can offer up more information on what exactly Microsoft will give webOS migrants. Judging from the frantic pace of his Twitter stream over the weekend though (he received over 500 responses in about 22 hours), it’s clear plenty of developers are interested in taking him up on the offer.

While Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform is still struggling with sales, it’s tough to deny that the company has done a great job at wrangling developer support. WP7 has nearly 30,000 apps in its marketplace — an impressive figure given that the company started from scratch when the platform launched last fall. Personalities like Watson have also helped Microsoft solidify developer relations — something that Palm and HP never managed to accomplish with webOS. Watson went as far as to put his personal cellphone number on Twitter last year to discuss Windows Phone development.

Microsoft still has a ways to go with Windows Phone. It’s playing catch-up with Apple’s 500,000 iOS apps and Android’s 250,000 apps, and device sales haven’t been strong enough to give Windows Phone any significant market share. That could all change, though, with the release of Mango, Windows Phone 7’s first big update, as well as new devices this fall, including Nokia’s first flagship Windows Phone.

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