Windows Phone Marketplace to include private app distribution, shareware modes

At TechEd in New Orleans, Microsoft unveiled some new features for Windows Phone 7 aimed at enterprise and developer communities. One of the upcoming additions to the Windows Phone environment will be a sort of "private app store" system that launches in the fall.

"Private distribution for beta-testing represents an important first step for Windows Phone," Partner group program manager Charlie Kindel said. "Our long term strategy is to adopt the public and private cloud model with Marketplace…Initially, we are enabling private distribution of applications for registered developers in a way that is optimized for beta-testers. This will enable developers to more easily distribute test applications in a secure way. We also appreciate that as phones come to market and people begin bringing them into corporate environments, IT will look for a similar private distribution solution."

Developers will be able to pick out who the users of the app will be when they upload their app to the developer portal, and the prospective users will then receive an email which links to the private app listing.

Additionally, the Windows Phone Marketplace will be the first of the major mobile app stores to let developers upload "shareware." A new optional Trial API lets developers publish a version of their app that has limited functionality or a limited shelf life, so that users can download and try the app before they buy it. This means that the Windows Phone Marketplace will support free, paid, "freemium," ad-supported, and trial versions of apps.

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