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Microsoft blocks dirty dozen apps from mobile store

Beats Apple on middleware restrictions

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Say what you like about Microsoft (as Apple fans do). At least you know where you stand on certain issues.

When it comes to Microsoft's planned Marketplace for Mobile, you can forget about making or installing software that changes Microsoft's default browser, search client, or media player on a Windows mobile phone. Also out are VoIP calls on an operator's network and ads for carriers.

These join a list of 12 types of applications that Microsoft's said are prohibited from appearing on its Windows Marketplace for Mobile. The list features in a plain-old PDF, missing any Microsoft branding what so ever, which a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed for The Reg is genuine.

The list is potentially more restrictive than the rules governing Apple's App Store for the iPhone. While Apple has unhelpfully not provided any public guidance to developers, a strategy that has backfired (here and here), the company does at least let you change browsers and run VoIP over WiFi.

Portions of the Microsoft list are a throwback to pre-antitrust desktop monopoly days, when it told OEMs what browsers and media players they could install in return for getting Windows on their PCs.

But this time, Microsoft is coming from a position of weakness. Windows on Mobile has relatively small market share, as does its browser and mobile search engine. Old habits die hard, it seems, and Microsoft is trying to play that old-world, big-vendor game of claiming market share by prescribing the software people can use on devices.

Also, Microsoft is putting in place measures that preserve the kind of mobile ads and search deals it has signed with Verzion and extend them to other players. Such deals divvy up revenue and traffic.

The idea will be that a phone shipped with Windows Mobile is a mobile phone shipped with Windows Mobile search, browser, and media software. Microsoft will remove the ability for people to uninstall the pre-packaged Microsoft options because it's the gatekeeper to the app store.

It's not clear from Microsoft's list whether it will follow Apple with VoIP over WiFi.

Other aspects on Microsoft's list are possibly to be expected: Applications that promote or link to rival market places - such as Apple's App Store or Nokia's Ovi - are not allowed.

To keep potential network and handset partners sweet, Microsoft won't allow applications that promote mobile voice plans or replace or modify the SMS or MMS interface. Oh, and nothing with an over-the-air download of more than 10MB is permitted.

You can read the fill list of illegal Windows Marketplace for Mobile apps here (warning: PDF). ®

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