Microsoft is adjusting its schedule of payouts to Windows Phone 7 developers, offering a way to track app performance on its mobile Marketplace, and streamlining developer registration and submissions.
This could be a response to developer complaints percolating through the blogosphere over the past few weeks. Many of those developers harped about Windows Phone 7's apparent inability to report how many times users have downloaded a particular app.
"Currently I have no idea how many copies of GoVoice are sold nor did I receive a single paycheck," Nicholas Yu, creator of the GoVoice app, wrote in a Nov. 22 posting on his blog. "Implementing Push is a very risky thing for me because I need to justify that the expenses will cover the maintenance cost of a Push server."
Starting Dec. 9, Microsoft is apparently offering a "Report" links through Windows Phone 7's app-submission platform, App Hub, that will offer current download and transaction reporting information for apps and games.
There are two types of report: Download Reports, which offer a graphical view of daily and cumulative downloads, among other data; and Payout Reports, with payout data for all Marketplace applications.
"These reporting features include the ability for you to create custom views and apply filters," reads a Dec. 9 posting by Todd Brix on The Windows Phone Developer Blog, "providing the flexibility to see app performance data the way you want to help make app development and business decisions. Reports can be filtered by dae, country and application."
Other developers had complained about Windows Phone 7's payout schedule for apps, originally scheduled to begin February 2011. Microsoft had previously been adamant about that timetable, but now seems to be changing its tune.
"Back in October I shared that developer payouts for app and game sales would begin in February," Brix wrote in his Dec. 9 posting. "We are pleased to now announce that the first payouts for Windows Phone 7 sales will be made in the fourth week of January 2011."
Those payouts will include "payment on all sales of Windows Phone 7 apps and games that occurred after the phones became available in October 2010 through the end of December 2010."
After January 2011, Microsoft will process developer payouts on a monthly basis, for both Windows Phone 6.x and Windows Phone 7 apps.
Other Dec. 9 releases include a number of claimed fixes to the app registration and submission process. Developers from certain countries "were reporting issues with postal code rules that were not applicable to their locale," according to Brix. "We re-structured these rules to accommodate developers from these regions and they are now able to register successfully."
When it comes to re-submitting applications, he added, "the steps were unclear to many developers and resulted in the erroneous impression that the submission process was completed, when it was not." That issue has now been fixed, apparently, with a revised workflow featuring an App Hub UI "with a concise five-step process."
Microsoft has also updated its Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone 7, allowing ad-enabled mobile games that use XNA Framework.
Microsoft wants to build a robust app ecosystem to compete with similar offerings from Apple and Google. In order to increase the Windows Phone 7 platform's appeal, Microsoft now allows third-party developers to create Windows Phone 7 apps using Visual Basic, having released its new Visual Basic for Windows Phone Developer Tools-RTW Nov. 29.
"This release doubles the developer audience for Windows Phone, by enabling Visual Basic developers to create applications for Windows Phone, as well as C#," reads a Nov. 29 posting on Microsoft's Visual Basic Team blog. Unlike September's Visual Basic CTP for Windows Phone Developer Tools, "the RTW release provides -Go Live' support, which allows Visual Basic developers to submit their applications to the Windows Phone Marketplace."
Microsoft also hopes that Windows Phone 7's unique user interface, which aggregates Web content and applications into a series of subject-specific Hubs, will attract consumers who would otherwise gravitate toward a rival phone. Although Windows Phone 7 devices were released on the U.S. market in early November, company executives have been reluctant to share any early sales data.