Rolling out Windows Phone Marketplace for Launch

The level of excitement and anticipation for Windows Phone 7 is mounting by the day. There are a few updates and milestones regarding Windows Phone Marketplace that I’d like to update developers on today.

Let me start by thanking the developer community for the enthusiasm and creativity we’re already seeing. The Windows Phone Developer Tools have been downloaded over a half-a-million times across more than 200 countries. To make sure people get the most out of those tools, we’ve personally trained 20,000 + developers at hundreds of events and delivered more than 130,000 hours of training over the Web. The central theme to all of our developer work is really creativity — getting people from “what if” to “wow” as quickly as possible – the results are everywhere. We see apps and games in meetings and on the Web everyday that do things with our application platform that we hadn’t even considered. Now it’s time for them to bring those ideas to market and make a little money. That’s where Windows Phone Marketplace comes in.

We’ve given Marketplace an overhaul so that the quality of the developer experience in distributing apps and games matches our commitment to the customer experience on our new phone. The fair and transparent policies that we use to govern app certification remain intact, and we still strive to offer the industry’s best shopping experience for finding full-featured apps and games that meet or exceed customer expectations. In fact, many of the biggest changes to Marketplace for Windows Phone 7 are features and streamlined processes to help developers get their apps to market faster. For example, next week developers will see a brand new developer portal that makes it even easier for them to distribute and manage their apps and games. We’re taking more of the burden off of the developer so they can focus on their creativity.

Because we’ve made a number of changes to our developer portal and the back-end systems behind them, we’re going to be very deliberate in our timeline for rolling out Marketplace for developers. We’re starting something new here and we want to give developers a great experience, even if we have to iron out a few kinks behind the scenes along the way. We’ll do this by taking a phased approach that gives all registered developers an opportunity to be among the first to have their apps and games certified, while also enabling new Marketplace systems to gradually ramp-up to full self-service capacity. We’re going to start by accepting application submissions from first mover developers who already have their apps completed. We’ll then incrementally expand the number of apps we accept and certify until we ultimately enable the full self-serve Marketplace application submission capabilities of the new portal. The timeline looks like this:

  • Oct 4: All registered developers have been contacted and invited to request early submission to the Marketplace certification process.
  • Oct 6: Deadline for registered developers to respond to the invitation to participate in early submission. Of those that request access, an initial group of a couple of thousand developers will be accepted on a first come, first served basis to receive guidance and early access to the new application submission and certification process.
  • Oct 11: Participating early certification developers will receive instructions on submitting their xaps, allowing those apps to be published in Marketplace in the lead up to, and after, launch.
  • Oct 12-November: Microsoft will continue processing submissions and prioritizing new requests in the order they are received until the self-serve submission process is broadly enabled.

We expect to make Windows Phone Marketplace fully available to all developers in November, giving end users and developers alike the kind of quality experience that we hope will establish a rewarding long term relationship with Windows Phone. Test and near final apps and games are already showing up on pre-production devices. The list of available titles will grow daily as we near general availability to ensure that end users have a great catalog to shop on the day they pick up their new phone.

Shortly after new Windows Phones become broadly available, Marketplace will begin providing developers with individual insights on their app’s performance within Marketplace. The reporting will soon become more automated and self service. We’re also still working toward a beta distribution solution to allow developers to privately distribute their apps for testing through Marketplace. This solution will not be in place for the launch of Windows Phone 7, but it is a feature on our roadmap. And perhaps most importantly, developers can expect the first payout of sales to date to take place in February.

Bigger picture, this will be our second Marketplace launch in two years. There are several app store models out there today, but we’ve been given a unique opportunity to start from scratch and launch a Marketplace with one great year of experience under our belt. As I said earlier, our approach is philosophically the same. But now we know how to do it better. We’re focused on enabling a broad developer community to create quality apps and games that take advantage of the unique features of our phone, and we’re providing better tools and guidance to do it. We continue to keep our certification standards high and our policies transparent, while keeping the door closed to more questionable content. We also continue to improve the speed and predictability of our certification process so developers can more accurately plan.

We were given a fresh start with Windows Phone 7 and we decided to double down on quality. Some measure app store success by the tens of thousands. We have taken on a different challenge; to win each customer and developer one at a time. That means we’re going to create great lasting experiences that result in loyal phone customers and developers who continue to find value in innovating on our platform. To be clear, Windows Phone 7 will offer a tremendous variety of quality apps and games across a wide range of categories this holiday season, and we’re going to deliver them at an amazing rate. We see the very careful and deliberate ignition of Windows Phone Marketplace, and the application certification process, as a critical step in establishing the kind of trust with developers that will further energize the community and provide end users with a steady supply of creative apps and games over the long term.

Here’s what it all means to you in the near term;

We look forward to seeing your apps and games and helping you have a great experience through the new Marketplace for developers.