updated 04:45 pm EDT, Mon March 15, 2010
WP7 has unified music and app store
Microsoft today provided full details of its previously hinted at Windows Phone Marketplace. The store is an improvement on the Zune Marketplace and puts not just apps and music in the same place but breaks out app updates, games and podcasts on the top level. Windows Phone 7's "panorama" layout remains intact and uses the space to both highlight a featured app as well as to delve into specific categories.
The actual purchase page has an iPhone-like description and screen gallery but, as shown at the MIX keynote today, gives customers a "try" option to download an app as a trial version or "buy" to immediately get the full version. Both options provide the same binary, eliminating a common problem at the App Store or Android Market where many apps have two versions.
Notably, Microsoft has also now said that WP7 will only allow apps installed through the Marketplace, reversing its Windows Mobile policy of supporting browser installs. The company's Todd Higgs nonetheless told Engadget that it wants to avoid the inconsistencies and sudden reversals of the iPhone's App Store and will make the process "transparent and predictable." Among the steps, it plans to study borderline cases and update the guidelines if real-world cases show flaws.
The approach leaves just three relatively open platforms as just Android, BlackBerry OS and webOS have avenues for phone owners to download and install apps outside of the official gateway. Both Apple and now Microsoft have argued that security and a consistent experience make a closed experience better, but Microsoft's approach now alienates Handango and any other company that had been offering an alternative to Windows Marketplace for Mobile in Windows Mobile.