updated 07:40 pm EDT, Tue April 24, 2012
Windows Phone shopping to be web or phone only
Microsoft in an update instituted two major changes in how Windows Phone owners would get apps. It was now planning to pull the Windows Phone Marketplace option from the Zune desktop app on Windows PCs. Customers now had to either browse the web store, and push apps to their device, or else shop directly from the phone.
The consolidation was an attempt to "focus our engineering efforts where they matter most," Microsoft's Mazhar Mohammed said. Few users bought from the store, although Zune HD owners could still shop afterwards. The change would take effect automatically and almost immediately, with the feature removed online by Microsoft.
Linking closely to the update, the company would start requiring that every user run at least Windows Phone 7.5 to use apps. Within the "next few weeks," customers would be blocked from downloading, updating, or reviewing apps until they updated the phone. All current Windows Phones can run 7.5, leaving few barriers outside of reaching a Mac or Windows PC.
The change was reportedly to help both the Marketplace's performance as well as to improve device security and allow for "more new features," Mohammed said. Windows Phone 7.5 has a number of underlying features, such as multitasking and deeper live tile support, that 7.0 lacks. Security, while likely a real concern, may also be a pretext for closing off potential jailbreaking avenues now that ChevronWP7 has shut down and no officially sanctioned methods exist.