Microsoft updates Marketplace app submission guidelines

For all you dev types out there (and for the rest of us who like behind-the-scenes looks at things), Microsoft has updated its Applications Submission Guidelines (pdf link) for the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Not sure what's changed since the initial draft back in April, but being up to date is better when it comes to getting apps approved.

Strangely, they left out the launch date for the Marketplace. And Windows Mobile 6.5. Hey, Redmond, go ahead and e-mail us and we'll get that posted up soonest. :)

See also:

We can only hope this is how apps are born

Let it never be said that the Windows Mobile dev team doesn't have a sense of humor. Peep the video after the break.

Warning: This Facebook video about Windows Marketplace may contain scenes that are inappropriate for small children, eagles, octopi, other furry creatures and anyone who doesn't like to hear NSFW language bleeped out. For everyone else, prepare to laugh your buttocks off.

WinMo 7 on another leaked roadmap

OK, we're starting to get the feeling that work on Windows Mobile 7 may be a little farther along than we — OK, at least some of us — believed. What we have here, again from UX Evangelist, is a "Release to Testers" roadmap reportedly from a presentation less than two weeks old.

Also interesting but not too surprising is that Live Search, Windows Live, My Phone and the Windows Marketplace for Mobile all will make the leap to Windows Mobile 7, which if we're reading this right, would come after the second half of 2009, or in 2010, in other words.

Of course, there's that "All dates are subject to change" disclaimer at the bottom, which should go without saying.

Microsoft clarifies apps on multiple phones (and a little rumor for good measure)

Microsoft has clarified a Computer World story from earlier this week (and to which we linked) about being able to load apps purchased from Windows Marketplace for Mobile onto as many as five phones. The five phones remains true. But you'd better be the owner of those five phones.

According to an excerpt of the Marketplace's unreleased terms of the service provided to Computerworld by Microsoft's public relations gency, [sic] "You may install and use one copy of the Application on up to five (5) mobile devices you personally own or control and which are affiliated with the Windows Live ID associated with your Windows Marketplace for Mobile account. You may not install or use a copy of the Application on a device you do not own or control."

Hey, that's about how we read it the first time. Did anyone really think the old days of beaming apps between Palm devices would return?

And in slightly related news, there's a lone Tweet floating around [via] from a participant at WebDU in Australia stating that the Marketplace "will open for sales come November." The timing seems close. That would give Microsoft a little rest after the expected launch of Windows Mobile 6.5, which we're still hoping to see by October.

Of course, take that one, single, solitary Tweet with a grain of salt. Not like Twitter has ever led us astray, right?

Microsoft opens Marketplace developer forums

The buzz is starting to grow among developers as we continue to wait for the official launch of Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and with it the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5.

The Microsoft Developers Network has opened developers forums, and the chatter is growing. Threads so far include "Do you have to use Microsoft's Development Tools?", "Wishlist for Windows Mobile Marketplace", "When can we expect a WM 6.5 SDK?", and a slew of others.

Most end users probably won't get too much out of it, but it's an interesting look at what goes on behind the scenes.

Purchase an app in the Windows Marketplace, put it on five phones

One burning question about Windows Marketplace for Mobile has been whether you will be able to purchase an app and use it on more than one phone. Granted, most people don't have a desk drawer full of Windows phones, but it's not unheard of to have a few in a household.

Computerworld reports via a Tech-Ed session that phones will have to be registered with the Marketplace, via Microsoft's Live ID system. But doing so will allow you to install an up on as many as five phones with a single purchase.

This is far from unheard of. You can purchase and load apps onto as many iPhones and iPod Touches as you want, provided that they're all under the same iTunes account. No biggie.

Even for Windows Mobile, it's not that huge a step. Most apps – not all – employ only a basic protection scheme. They're either limited in function under a "trial" basis or time out after a specified amount of time. (Kinoma Play is the first exception that comes to mind. It reports home to the mothership if you load it onto another phone.) But in most cases you can load the same app on a number of phones, provided you have the registration code.

The Marketplace will change that, which should please developers. And provided the authorizing of multiple phones is smooth and seamless, we're all for it. Devs deserve to be paid for their work.

Marketplace prohibited list explained

When Microsoft first released the list of what'll get an app blocked from Windows Marketplace for Mobile, some of the reasons weren't entirely clear. Now, we're happy to say, a number of them have been answered.

Microsoft's Loke Uei spoke on the Winmo World podcast (which features the guys from wmpoweruser, Unwired View and and cleared up some of our questions.

  • No VOIP apps using a carrier's data. (WiFi is just fine. But no Skype over 3G. Sorry, folks. Saw that one coming.)
  • No apps with an OTA download of over 10MB. (That's for the initial app download. So, no 800MB Myst games. Once the app's on your phone, it can suck in as much data as you want. Er, so long as it's not VOIP.)
  • No apps that change the default browser, search client, or media player on the device. (Admittedly, they need to define this a little better, but they're working on it, and apps like Opera, Skyfire, Kinoma and the like should be OK.)

There's also a lot of talk about fragmenting the Windows Mobile application ecosystem with these rules, which will keep a number of apps out of the Marketplace. Our take on that:

The Windows Mobile application ecosystem already is fragmented. Yes, there are software houses that sell their apps under one roof, and there are sites such as Handango (and the WMExperts Software Store) that sell a number of apps. But it's safe to say Microsoft will be bring a weight and legitimacy to to the process that has been lacking for the average consumer.

The Marketplace should help bring the ecosystem together. Will it reach the level of integration of Apple's App Store? Certainly not at first. And maybe not ever. (And that's not necessarily a bad thing.) But suffice to say the Marketplace is still one of the larger developements for Windows Mobile to come out of the past couple of years.

Windows Mobile team talks app development

Members of the Windows Mobile team got together after the first day of Microsoft's Tech-Ed conference in Los Angeles to talk application development and discuss the upcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile. It's an interesting video, albeit 42 minutes long, and well worth a watch. For you busy bees, a couple of interesting points:

  • Widgets will be exclusive to the Marketplace. Don't expect to be able to sideload widgets, because they have to be signed (read: certified), and that can only be done through the Marketplace certification process.
  • A widget, for all intents and purposes, has the same status as an app. That includes counting toward the first five apps submitted for $99.
  • Certification will give end users peace of mind that an app won't brick their phone.
  • No Silverlight on Windows Mobile 6.5.
  • They didn't get to do everything they wanted with Windows Mobile 6.5. Just ran out of time.
  • Marketplace will launch in 55 nations, 29 of which will have for-pay stores as well as free apps.

Check out the entire Tech-Ed video here.

Marketplace registration officially official

It's been more than a week since we first told you Microsoft had opened Windows Marketplace for Mobile to developers, brought you the first look at what's prohibited, and uncovered confirmation that Windows Mobile 6.5 will work on non-touchscreen devices.

Now, Microsoft officially has announced the Marketplace open for business on the Windows Mobile Team blog. Nothing new for the average user, however. No word on when the Marketplace (and thus Windows Mobile 6.5) will be available.

Carriers getting custom Marketplaces

This should come as a surprise to no one, given that it was painfully obvious in the Marketplace screenshots Malatesta broke over the weekend, but Microsoft apparently is in talks with carriers to have their own customizations in the Windows Marketplace.

As you can see above, it looks like AT&T will have its own little corner, and talks are under way overseas, too, according to (Apologies for the translation)

Microsoft wants to close deals with the major providers to the 'branded' versions. "Then about O2, Telefonica and Vodafone, large telco's," says Maarten Sonneveld, business group lead for Microsoft Mobile Netherlands. The providers may 'branded' versions use own ROMs of Windows Mobile devices.

Questions still remain as to what will actually be in the Marketplace upon launch. (For that matter, we still have no idea when the Marketplace and Windows Mobile 6.5 will launch.) We know of a bunch of developers who plan to be there from the outset, but the list of prohibited apps we found over the weekend has a lot of people scratching their heads. We'll just have to wait and see.

Via Unwired View

Marketplace for Mobile: What's prohibited

One of the bigger beefs with Apple's App Store is the seemingly indiscriminate nature in which some updated apps are rejected, even after they've already been approved. (See: Tweetie and more recently, the Nine Inch Nails app.)

We now have a hard list of what'll get your app banned (pdf link) from Windows Marketplace for Mobile. For us, here are the biggies, though questions remain:

  • No VOIP apps using a carrier's data. (Will WiFi be OK?)
  • No apps that replace or modify the default dialer, SMS or MMS apps.
  • No apps with an OTA download of over 10MB. (Not sure if that's the app itself, or downloading within the app for, say, a podcatcher or the dreaded torrent downloader.)
  • No apps that change the default browser, search client, or media player on the device. (Does that mean no Opera or Skyfire, which let you choose to set them as the default browser? No Kinoma Play, Core Player or the like for multimedia?)

That said, we have absolutely no indication that Windows Mobile 6.5 would bar you from installing apps from outside the Marketplace. None. The following list is just what will keep an app out of the Marketplace. Interestingly, the list doesn't include any mention of prohibiting any "objectionable content," except for in advertising within apps, which must follow standard Microsoft practices (pdf). Does that mean anything goes with regards to content? We're likely to see some clarification in the weeks ahead.

Check out the fine print after the break.

WinMo 6.5 will work on non-touchscreen phones

There's been some discussion about Windows Mobile 6.5 and non-touchscreen phones, namely that everything we've seen has been on touchscreen devices. And as of right now, the only phones we know are getting an upgrade to 6.5 are Professional devices like the HTC Touch Pro 2 and Diamond 2. That's not to say that Standard phones won't launch with 6.5 already on board or get upgraded – we just don't officially know of any yet.

But fret not. Windows Mobile 6.5 will at least run on on Standard devices, according to the Marketplace Application Standard Guidelines (pdf):

It is highly recommended that applications should have the ability to run on two or more Windows Mobile 6.5 device platforms, for example, multiple Standard and/or Professional devices. Writing to multiple Windows Mobile devices helps extend the market opportunity for developers and gives end-users greater choice when making purchase decisions concerning both applications and Windows Mobile devices. This requirement is waived for ruggedized devices, which also referred to as Vertical market devices.

That should kill off any fears. The question remains: Which Standard phones will it run on?

Marketplace now open to developers

A couple of days ago we mentioned that the Windows Marketplace for Mobile made a brief appearance to at least one user of an early Windows Mobile 6.5 ROM. Over the weekend, the Marketplace opened up to developers and laid out guidelines for submitting apps.

We've already talked to devs about Marketplace and gotten a look at the money side of things. Devs keep 70 percent of sales, it'll cost $99 to submit the first five apps, and every app after that is another $99. Updates will be free.

Most of what you'll read in the Application Submission Guidelines (pdf link) is pretty technical and not all that exciting to anyone other than developers, though it is, at least, interesting to see what goes on on that side of the Windows Mobile world. And we'll follow up on some of it shortly. But do note that the guidelines we're linking to here are a draft, and Microsoft says they will change.

That said, it also means we're chuggling closer to the launch of the Marketplace, and with it, the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5.

Windows Marketplace open for business?

We've known about the upcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile for quite some time now and that it'll only be for WM6.5 users (boo). But up till today when you launched the store app in your janked WM6.5 ROM, nothing happened or you got a "coming soon."

Well at least according to MrHawaii at ppcgeeks, he was finally able to access the store today and even downloaded Pandora.  He says:

Today I clicked on it and it said CAB needed to be installed. After install, voila! Marketplace open for business. I already downloaded Pandora successfully. There are not too many fun apps yet and most of them come with a charge. But the layout of the store was very finger friendly and very snappy.

We assume that this may be Microsoft just testing the wheels a bit and unless you have a WM6.5 ROM that didn't have the store removed, you're out of luck. Still, nice to see this starting up. 

Two more images after the jump!

Video: Need for Speed Undercover on Touch HD

We're expecting a goodly number of games to hit the Windows Marketplace for Mobile later this year (check out the full list of initial participants), but some of you may not be completely sold on a Windows phone being good for real gaming.

Feast your eyes north at a demo of Need for Speed Undercover on the Touch HD (running Windows Mobile 6.5 nonetheless) and tell us if your fears are assuaged any, especially considering the upcoming Touch Pro 2 and Touch Diamond 2 have virtually the same specs as the Touch HD.

HD via Mobile Tech Addicts

Who's on board the Windows Marketplace

Microsoft recently touted a list of developers that already are on board for Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Someone the names are familiar. Some we talked to about their plans to join the Marketplace. Other names are a little more obscure.

Who's missing? Obviously scores of other developers, some small, some large. But this is a sure sign that the Marketplace will have some momentum when it's launched later this year.

After the break, we take a quick look at all of the names Microsoft released earlier at CTIA.

Marketplace, Themes will be WinMo 6.5 only

In a bit of clarification from Phonescoop that we weren't exactly hoping for, Windows Marketplace for Mobile will only be available to phones running Windows Mobile 6.5, dashing the hopes and shopping dreams of anyone who has a device that won't be updated. Same goes for the themes. They'll be Windows Mobile 6.5 only — and even then only for touchscreen phones (Oh, Snap!). The Facebook app already is will be available to everyone.

Of course, we still don't officially know which or how many current phones will be updated from 6.1 to 6.5 (we do know that the HTC Touch Diamond 2 and Touch Pro 2 will get it, as will the Toshiba TG01). Microsoft recently opened the door for more upgrades than we expected, but things are still a little murky.

And further clouding the waters is the ROM cooking community. The folks at XDA Developers already have versions of Windows Mobile 6.5 running on a number of phones. So will they have access to the Marketplace? Or will there be some sort of gatekeeper to keep phones running unofficial ROMs from shopping?

Microsoft gives more marketplace details! Themes!, Upgrades to 6.5!

Hot on the heels of yesterday's news of Microsoft clarifying some of its Marketplace policies comes a treasure trove of new info regarding Windows Mobile 6.5, Marketplace and personalizing your 6.5 experience. Here's the lowdown on just a bit of what we expect this week at CTIA in Las Vegas:

Marketplace: Will be available in April as a free download, and more than 125 software vendors are already on board. The Facebook application (already snagged from a 6.5 ROM) will allow you to take and upload video directly from your phone. AP Mobile will be there (that's significant for a news organization because the AP also got in on the iPhone nearly from the beginning).

Also in the Marketplace from the get-go will be SPB and Resco (which we spoke to recently), MySpace, Accuweather, CNBC, 3deep by Litescape, EA Mobile, Developer One, Fameloft, Glu Mobile, Handmark, Ilium Software, Jeyo Inc, Kinoma, Magmic, Melodis Corp., Namco, Pandora, Phatware, SBSH Mobile, Shozu, Sling, Web Information Solutions and Zagat.

The fine print: As reported yesterday, devs can submit updates for free. You can pay with a credit card, or Marketplace purchases can appear on your bill. You can "return" an application after 24 hours for a full refund.

Themes and personalization: We'll be hearing more this week about customizing your Windows Phone experience, including a partnership with the Design Museum London and Council of Fashion Designers of America to create themes and such.  Designer Isaac Mizrahi is on board. Maybe you've heard of him. There also will be a theme generator that lets you take a photo from your computer and generate an entire theme, which then will be sent straight to your phone.

Upgrading to Windows Mobile 6.5: We know of a few phones that will be upgradable from 6.1 to 6.5, and Microsoft is clarifying this position a little. Mainly in that if they meet a minimum hardware standard — 128MB RAM, 400 MHz processor — they may be available for an upgrade. But that's still up to the partners (read: Manufacturers/carriers) to choose to do so.

Loads more pics of all this after the break. Check back early and often this week as we'll have lots more news coming out of CTIA.

Need more Marketplace? Peep this

And make sure you've got Silverlight first.

Microsoft reportedly won't charge Marketplace developers $99 to update applications

We recently spoke to several application developers about the pricing structure for Windows Marketplace for Mobile — namely that devs would pay $99 to submit up to five apps to the Marketplace; any submission after that would cost another $99 per app, including for updates.

The blogosphere erupted. The devs we spoke to were largely a little more patient, adopting a wait-and-see approach.

But CNET [via electronista] says Microsoft has clarified things. The initial $99 will still only cover the first five apps, and each additional submission will cost another $99, but updates will be free.

Now all updates or version upgrades for applications that have already been submitted to the store will be accepted free of charge, a Microsoft representative confirmed. This applies to minor bug fixes as well as second-generation releases that add new features or capabilities.

There. Are we all happy now? And do we still think this will help sort out the crapware that can be overwhelming in other stores?