Microsoft Windows Phone Marketplace Launching in October

Microsoft will launch its Windows Phone Marketplace in October, and may well plan to release Windows Phone 7 devices at about the same time. The final set of Windows Phone developer tools arrives Sept. 16.

Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace will launch sometime in early October, suggesting that manufacturers will begin to roll out Windows Phone 7 devices ahead of the holiday season.

In an Aug. 23 blog post, a Microsoft executive announced that final Windows Phone 7 developer tools would be released Sept. 16.

"All developers will have equal opportunity to capitalize on the first-mover advantage of having their apps or games ready at launch," Brandon Watson, Microsoft's director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, wrote on The Windows Blog.

To make that happen, though, developers will need to download the final tools and use them to recompile their applications and games. "Have your XAP ready for ingestion into the marketplace in early October when it opens," Watson advised.

Microsoft's current mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 6.5, launched in October 2009 concurrently with Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a mobile-applications storefront. Despite being termed a "restart" by Microsoft executives, Mobile 6.5 failed to gain traction with consumers. Windows Phone 7 is viewed as an even more radical reset, with a completely revamped user interface and application marketplace.

An October launch for both Windows Phone Marketplace and Windows Phone 7 would be in keeping with earlier rumors. In June, tech blog Engadget quoted Mich Mathews, senior vice president for Microsoft's Central Marketing Group, as saying Windows Phone 7 would launch in October. That timing would allow Microsoft and its manufacturing partners to build buzz for the smartphones ahead of the holiday shopping rush.

Whether that pans out-Microsoft has repeatedly said the phones will launch by the end of 2010, at least-the company is certainly pushing developers to create for the platform. Major competitors to Windows Phone 7, including the Apple iPhone and the range of Google Android devices, come with sizable application stores already in place, while Research In Motion has committed to building a more robust storefront for BlackBerry applications.
"The Windows Phone Marketplace continues our commitment to having a clear and open process for certifying apps and games. To reinforce that, today we have posted an updated set of Windows Phone Marketplace policies," Watson said. "Further, in the coming weeks we will be conducting a limited beta test cycle of our app submission and certification process."

But the supposedly updated list of Marketplace policies seems unchanged from the version released in July, at least when it comes to guidelines for applications and content. Those policies include restrictions on the depiction of exploding body parts and "people or creatures on fire," which could create some difficulties when it comes to approving popular games.

"Philosophically, our approach with Marketplace is in line with what's existed for Windows Phone traditionally, and for Windows Mobile 6.5," Casey McGee, a spokesperson for Microsoft, told eWEEK in a July 13 interview at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference. "What we've sought to do with Windows Phone is be very transparent-here are what the fees are going to look like, etc., and here are the guidelines."

Reportedly, Microsoft has been offering to pay developers of popular iPhone applications to port their wares over to Windows Phone 7. At Tech??ÇEd, Microsoft made a clear effort to push the platform to more business-centric designers. The company claims that there have been about 300,000 downloads of earlier versions of its Windows Phone Developer Tools to date.