Microsoft Cracking Down on App Submission Process.. It’s About Time

Over the past few months, the quality of app submissions available on the Windows Phone Marketplace have slid. The Marketplace now sports over 80,000 apps, but most of these could be considered little  more than junk submissions out to make a quick buck. There are some true gems that are worth supporting, but searching the Marketplace is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Microsoft is finally addressing the problem by cracking down on original submission guidelines and making sure trademarks are protected. Four new improvements have been announced on the Windows Phone blog in the hopes that developers will take notice. These four guidelines will be strict in what is allowed on the Marketplace from here on out:

  1. Cleaning up keywords.
  2. Avoiding trademark trouble.
  3. Keeping the quality bar high.
  4. Refining approach to content enforcement.
So what does this mean for app creators and consumers? Higher quality apps that are clearly defined as third-party, with less submissions that are based on sex and sexuality. In regards to mature content, Microsoft has taken Apple’s stance on the matter.
Our content policies are clearly spelled out: we don’t allow apps containing “sexually suggestive or provocative” images or content. What we do permit is the kind of content you occasionally see on prime-time TV or the pages of a magazine’s swimsuit issue.
This new policy is in place to help avoid the massive number of Sexy Girls++ apps and their ilk that have been cropping up on the Marketplace for the past few months. Additionally, Microsoft is focusing their policing efforts on the icons and tiles that these apps use. If Microsoft deems any current app to be too provocative for their new terms, it will be removed and will need to be resubmitted with new imagery.
When it comes to refining the keywords policy, the previous amount of keywords that were allotted for apps was limited to five. However, app creators have found that by including extra keywords, the app places for other searches. This had led to even legitimate apps such as Taptitude including the keywords Wikipedia and Google in order to show up in more places on the Marketplace.
Microsoft is cracking down on this type of behavior by deleting any app that exceeds they five keyword rule.
Starting this week, we’re going to start enforcing the five keyword rule for all current and future Marketplace apps. Any app that exceeds this number will have all its keywords deleted. Affected developers will be notified and can then enter five new keywords in App Hub. We’re taking this action to help ensure that customers are able to find the most relevant set of apps for their search—including yours.
This is the best change that has been needed for a while, since many app developers have been abusing this policy and it’s resulted in the hell that is current Marketplace search results. Additionally, Microsoft is upgrading its standards when it comes to trademark use and asks developers to follow three simple rules:

(1) You own the trademark, (2) you’ve secured permission from the owner to use it, or (3) you’re using a trademarked name (not a logo) to describe your app’s features or functionality without suggesting that the app is actually published by the trademark owner.

Now that Microsoft is taking the steps to improve its Marketplace, hopefully we’ll see more quality developers eager to get started on the platform. No one wants to develop for a platform that seems to have no enforceable guidelines when it comes to app submissions. My only qualm with the whole process is that this clean up should have began before new Lumia 900 users were subjected to the current state of the marketplace today.

[via WindowsTeamBlog]

  • DebraPMeredith
  • I think most marketplaces could use a little cleaning up and reorganization. Good to see them attacking this issue before they get a ton of apps filling their store.