updated 03:45 pm EST, Tue March 8, 2011
Microsoft improves WP7 app submission policies
Microsoft spurred on Windows Phone 7 developers Tuesday with policy changes as well as a milestone for its apps. The company is now getting closer to Android and iOS policies and will let publishers certify a free app as many as 100 times without paying the developer fee a second time. It had previously capped the limit at five and discouraged publishers from offering more than a few feature additions or fixes.
It moved ahead with better open-source support as well. While it has already allowed for some open-source apps, unlike Apple, it now more directly includes licenses such as the Eclipse Public License and Mozilla Public License. More open-source policies could be approved in the future, Microsoft said.
In a possible minor controversy, Microsoft has also made it optional to include contact information instead of mandatory. The stance should speed the app approval process but carries the risk of leaving customers stranded if an app stops working properly or does damage.
Microsoft used the policy switch to tout its reaching 9,000 apps. The growth made the store three times larger than what it was just a month after launch and is far faster than BlackBerry App World, which took a year and a half to get to 10,000. Android and iOS are still well ahead with over 100,000 and 350,000 apps respectively.
The credit for the relatively fast growth was given in part to support for trial apps. Almost 10 percent of trial downloads lead to paid versions, Microsoft said, and often as quickly as two hours later. Paid apps with trial versions were 70 times more likely to be downloaded than those that insisted on the full amount up front.
Microsoft's platform is rare in the current smartphone industry for supporting trial versions within an app. Both Android and iOS lack the functionality and resort to developers usually making either separate free and paid apps or producing "freemium" apps where unlocking more content requires an in-app purchase. Apple's rules for its App Store actively forbid versions labeled as demos.