Windows Phone 7's first big payout rolls in early

Microsoft on Thursday provided some good news for Windows Phone 7 app developers in the form of a handful of new information about the Windows Phone Marketplace.

In October, Windows Phone developers were told the first Marketplace payouts would arrive "some time in February 2011," but today Microsoft said payments will be processed in the fourth week of January. While tecnically only a tiny bit ahead of schedule, it's surely good to know when the money will start coming in.

Furthermore, the updates in the "Reports" link in a developer's App Hub account will let him get detailed reports of daily and cumulative downloads of his applications and games in the Marketplace, and reports of aggregate Marketplace data, which includes sales of apps for Windows Mobile 6.5+. With the aggregate data, developers can track how their apps are doing against the overall downloading climate of Windows Phone.

Perhaps this is more important to industry watchers, who will be able to use this information to see how the Windows Phone Marketplace is doing against its competitor platforms.

Fortunately, along with the news today came a couple of tangible updates for devs too. First, the processes of becoming a registered Windows Phone developer and then submitting apps to the Marketplace have both been streamlined.

The goal is to ultimately shorten the time it takes to register as a developer and get your first app listed, a notoriously unpredictable period of time for developers on Apple's iOS platform.

"Over the last month, 91% of applications have been certified and published within 2 days of submission, and 86% of the 1,000+ new developers that register in App Hub every week now have their account vetted and validated within 10 days," said Todd Brix of the Windows Phone Marketplace and Developer Product Management team.

Finally, the Mobile Advertising SDK that was released last September has been updated to include support for the XNA Framework for in-game ads, alongside the support for Silverlight it already had.

"Mobile gaming developers can now easily integrate banner or text ads into their Windows Phone 7 gaming apps while leveraging XNA game-specific features like 3D graphics support, multiple graphic blend modes, built-in game loop and much more," Brix said.

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