Windows Phone US Availability Brings New Features to Marketplace

Windows Phone 7 is now available at AT&T and T-Mobile retailers across the United States. I’m pleased to announce that as of today, Windows Phone 7 customers in launch markets around the world already have access to nearly 2,000 apps and games – exceeding the 1,000 mark we set in early October. I’m also happy to report that Marketplace is fully open to submissions from any of our 13,000 registered developers in the 30 supported markets. Today marks another significant milestone for the Windows Phone developer community and I want to thank you for lending the passion, creativity and patience to get us here. We’ve taken a very deliberate approach to rolling out Marketplace to reach this point, and we’re adding a few more features today.

Developers spent months experimenting with our free tools before we gradually began accepting and reviewing apps and games through an early access program we kicked off in early October. This gave us the chance to slowly bring new systems online, while giving first mover developers the opportunity to have apps in Marketplace as soon as phones went on sale. These early submitters also helped uncover a variety of bugs and issues, allowing us to get them corrected before making Marketplace broadly available. In exchange, first movers have been the first to generate sales and downloads and in many cases are already shipping updates to further optimize their apps based on user feedback and growing device availability. I want to thank the early access participants for their feedback and patience.

What’s New
We’ve added to a great set of free Windows Phone Developer Tools that have already been downloaded well over half-a-million times, delivered a brand new developer portal dubbed App Hub that brings app and Xbox indie game developer resources together and have now made Marketplace available to all registered developers to help get their apps to market. Starting today Microsoft Advertising’s in-app ad solution for Windows Phone 7 is available and serving ads in the U.S., helping developers earn more revenue by making integrating ads easy and providing reporting that leverages the industry’s first real-time, bid mobile ad exchange.

Big Picture
We showed the world our beautiful new Windows Phone 7 operating system in February, then came back in March to share our plan for enabling developers to tap into that new design with familiar tools like Visual Studio 2010 and Expression that take advantage of rich runtimes in Silverlight and XNA. We continued to improve those tools by adding controls to make it even easier for developers to take advantage of Windows Phone 7 design principles. We’ve also shown how we’re going to make apps more discoverable and easier to merchandise through a dedicated Marketplace Hub on every phone, a new Zune based shopping experience on the desktop and the introduction of new features such as deep linking. Deep linking is a new promotional tool we’ve added for Windows Phone 7 that allows developers to more easily drive awareness of their applications. Developers can now point consumers directly to Marketplace apps and games on the phone or Zune PC client from the Web, an app or even email or text messages.

With the new Marketplace Hub on every Windows Phone 7 we’re giving consumers one place to find the music, apps and games they love, and using our design system to make shopping more fun and intuitive. And once they find what they’re looking for, Windows Phone automatically organizes that content into other phone experiences such as the Pictures, Games and Music + Video Hubs. These aren’t just new features; these are steps we’ve taken to make developers a core element of our new Windows Phone brand promise by extending our commitment to design and integration to apps and the shopping experience.

Only the Beginning
Windows Phone 7 is a fresh start for Microsoft and our developer community and we know we still have a long way to go before we win back the kind of market presence we all expect. We’ll also continue adding features to Marketplace such as reporting and regional support to make creating and merchandizing even easier and more rewarding on Windows Phone 7. That said, I’m very encouraged by the reception we’ve received thus far.

People get the value of a different kind of phone, with much of the industry praising our new design and conveying a sense of cautious optimism for our long term potential. Similarly, people seem to intuitively understand the unique role that Windows Phone apps play on our platform. Early on, people responded to the consistency of design and performance of our apps and the way they implement controls for panorama, pivot and Bing search, Live Tile and Hub integration and the notification service. Here again, we still have work we can do to help developers get the most out of every app and find the best way to get in front of end users.

So again, thank you. If you’ve been waiting to submit your app, we’re ready for you. If you’ve been using the tools but haven’t registered, I’d encourage you to visit App Hub and register now to take advantage of those additional resources. If you’re still deciding when or if to create an app for Windows Phone, I’d say think about the opportunity you have today to be one of the first apps or games to capture the imagination of consumer this holiday