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Microsoft's Marketplace for Mobile

The big news for developers from Barcelona this week is the official word that Windows Marketplace for Mobile is coming soon. Windows Mobile developers have asked Microsoft for months to come up with an answer to Apple's App Store.

During the World Mobile Congress 2009 keynote yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Andy Lees, the senior vice president of the Mobile Communications Business, delivered the new "Windows Phone" strategy. For now, it's built around the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system, the new Microsoft My Phone sync service and Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which will appear on the "Start" menu of the upcoming OS.

At this point, little is known about the developer program for Marketplace. Microsoft implied that any Windows Mobile developer whose application meets "simple" security and compatibility requirements can participate in the online app store. How will this work, exactly? What if your app competes with a Microsoft app?

With more than 20,000 Windows Mobile apps today, Microsoft is, in a sense, ahead of Apple (at least in terms of quantity), which passed the 10,000 app mark in December. But Apple has angered some developers with its App Store qualification process, making them sign non-disclosure agreements and in some cases rejecting apps for ambiguous reasons -- "lack of sufficient utility," for one -- and then offering its own apps with similar functionality, according to some complaints.

"We will not limit what a developer does so that they have to use the Marketplace," Lees said during the keynote. "They can continue to go to Web sites and load applications, or organizations can load applications on behalf of their employees, but it does provide another option for developers who want a direct connection into their potential customers."
John Bruno, a program manager for the Windows Marketplace team, is charged with heading the developer program. He explained the opportunity for developers in the Windows Mobile Team blog on Monday.

"Windows Marketplace can help you grow your business profitably by connecting you directly with millions of Windows Mobile users that are looking for your applications. Whether you are a hobbyist developer or a large ISV, we'll make it easy for you to bring your applications to market and manage them effectively throughout their life cycle."

The 6.5 upgrade to the Windows Mobile 6.1 OS is expected on devices later this year. Internet Explorer Mobile 6 will be bundled with Windows 6.5. News Editor Jeffrey Schwartz outlines the Barcelona announcements in his article, "Microsoft Debuts Windows 6.5 But Is Mum on Future."

The first public preview of Microsoft's Silverlight 2 for Mobile was expected early this year based on comments made by Microsoft product manager Amit Chopra during a session at the Professional Developers Conference in October. I guess it depends on what you mean by "early"; so far there is no sign of the CTP.

Are you developing for Windows Mobile and/or other platforms? Express your thoughts on Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Are Microsoft's efforts to defrag the distribution channel enough? What can Microsoft learn from Apple's missteps as it rolls out its own developer program? Comment on the Web or contact me at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 02/17/2009

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