Microsoft vows to clean up Windows Phone Marketplace

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) outlined plans to clean up its Windows Phone Marketplace, promising more stringent enforcement of adult-themed content as well as a crackdown on bulk app submissions.

Windows Phone Marketplace Icons

Windows Phone Marketplace will require closely-related apps to carry differentiated icons.

Although Windows Phone Marketplace allows apps containing "sexually suggestive or provocative" images or content, Microsoft said that moving forward, it will more diligently police icons, titles and content associated with adult apps and demand developers institute subtler, more modest imagery and terms in their marketing efforts. "Apps that don't fit our standard will need to be updated to remain in the store," Windows Phone Division Senior Director Todd Brix wrote on the Windows Phone Developer Blog. "This is about presenting the right content to the right customer and ensuring that apps meet our standards. We will also monitor customer reaction to apps and reserve the right to remove ones that our customers find offensive."

Microsoft also will seek to curtail bulk publishing--i.e., hundreds of similar apps simultaneously submitted by the same developer. "We're seeing developers submit the same app to multiple Marketplace categories, a violation of our policies," Brix states. "Instead, you should pick a single category that best reflects the content and function of your app. This not only helps customers find your app but gives all developers an equal opportunity to have their app discovered where people expect." Microsoft will remove similar apps submitted across multiple categories.

Windows Phone Marketplace also will require that multiple iterations of closely-related apps carry differentiated icons and secondary branding changes that communicate the unique properties of each app.

Microsoft will additionally begin enforcing rules limiting all Windows Phone Marketplace submissions to five descriptive keywords. Microsoft will delete all keywords from apps that exceed the limit and will notify affected developers, giving them the chance to select five keywords that best promote the app. The company also will more closely examine keywords to guarantee relevancy, removing words and phrases unrelated to the app in question.

Microsoft also urged developers to consult its content policy and resources like the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office in order to better understand trademark and copyright restrictions. According to Brix, Microsoft is receiving a growing number of complaints from trademark and copyright owners. "We often find trademark violations are unintentional: some developers just aren't clear on what constitutes a violation," Brix said. "But these investigations--and the time and money they can cost--can be avoided by doing a little homework before submitting or updating your app."

Last week, Microsoft announced it will soon require all consumers wishing to install applications from Windows Phone Marketplace to first upgrade their smartphones to run Windows Phone 7.5. The latest version of the operating system will be mandatory for virtually all Windows Phone Marketplace interactions, including app purchases and downloads, software updates and review submissions. Users running previous versions of Windows Phone can still browse the storefront after the change takes effects, but attempts to download or update an app will result in an error message.

Windows Phone devices are expected to generate just 2 percent of all app installs in 2012 according to an ABI Research forecast issued earlier this month. ABI anticipates consumers will download close to 36 billion apps this year, with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android combining to drive 83 percent of all downloads.

For more:
- read this Windows Phone Developer Blog entry

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