Microsoft blocks dirty dozen apps from mobile store
Beats Apple on middleware restrictions
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). ®
This sort of story reminds me that Microsoft are actually running a Marketplace.
I'm still trying to decide what I disagree with the most, the rulings on what MS are going to allow in their shop or the fact that MS bothered to set one up in the first place. I've been using HTC phones since their first offering and I've never used MS Marketplace, I don't see the point when Handango are doing a better job with a wider choice and been doing it a lot longer.
This is something Apple need to do, open up the marketplace and stop restricting people to only buying apps through iTunes, once they do this they'll find their userbase will grow even more.
This is simply free-market competition at work. Apple did something; Microsoft is competing. That's how the system works.
Apple puts silly restrictions on what you can do with their phones; Microsoft competes by being *more* silly and *more* restrictive. Microsoft is a heavy-handed monopoly; Apple competes by being *more* heavy-handed. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?
Mine's the one with the Palm Pre in the pocket. They're #3; they try even harder!
The problem is that this article is completely focussed on a negative interpretation of this list, and just assumes that it is a monopolisitc move by Microsoft.
For example, does this phrase used in the article:
"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."
sound, considering the implication of this statement, like a fair interpretation of these points in the PDF file:
"Applications that change the default browser, search client, or media player on the device."
"Applications that enable VoIP (Voice over IP) services over a mobile operator network."
And also, this statement from the article:
"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."
completely overlooks the fact that Windows Mobile doesn't restrict you to applications only from the official app store - you can install whatever the hell you like, and make changes to the phone at root level without modification.
These comments are aren't about defending Microsoft's policy - they're about providing some balance to a fairly one-sided article.