Microsoft to charge developers for Windows Marketplace application updates

Apple may be failing to keep up with iPhone developers demanding timely iPhone application approvals and App Store payments, but at least Apple doesn’t charge iPhone developers a submission-fee every time they update their application. It seems that Microsoft, in their unquestioned wisdom, thinks it best to make Windows Mobile developers pay for every single application submission, even something as simple as a typo-fixing update.

At first, Microsoft announced their Windows Marketplace as an easy and centralized way to publish and sell Windows Mobile applications. We all initially dreamed of Windows Marketplace as a constantly growing and updated catalogue of Windows Mobile applications, the likes of which iPhone-wielding AppStore patrons have been enjoying for quite some time. Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t as concerned with growing the developer community as they are with their bottom line.

Microsoft had already made it known that they intend to charge developers the same $99 submission-fee to certify and approve applications that will be sold for free. To help offset the initial costs of developing Windows Mobile application, Microsoft will let developers submit up to five applications free of charge (as long as the developer is paid up on their $99 Windows Marketplace membership fee).

After five application submissions, however, application submissions will start to get expensive. Especially for update-happy developers.

Microsoft will apparently be counting each application update as an entirely new application submission. That means “application updates will count as new application submissions, and therefore will count towards the first 5 free submissions, or will cost $99 each after the that,” according to Microsoft. In a best-case scenario, Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace policy would limit a Windows Mobile developer to just four applications updates per year – and that’s assuming the developer has just one WinMo app in the Marketplace.

Worse yet, Microsoft will charge a new submission-fee every time a developer re-submits a previously rejected Windows Mobile application for Marketplace approval. Again, Microsoft allots 5 free application submission, so Windows Mobile developers have at least 5 attempts to get their application approved for the Windows Marketplace, but that would leave them having to pay out-of-pocket for subsequent application submissions and updates.

It could be argued that Microsoft is putting the pressure on developers to get it right the first time. Rather than concentrating on publishing an application and fine-tuning it over time through updates, Microsoft could be fostering the kind of development that births fully-functional application the first time around. The additional submission-fees also serves as a deterrent to constant app updates that could leave Microsoft in the application back-log Apple currently finds itself, and the additional fees help pay for the man-hours needed to review significant app updates.

On the one hand, we have Apple’s extremely inviting AppStore which has become bogged down by a flood of new application submissions and application updates. Despite developer complaints, the AppStore’s business model has proven extremely successful. On the other hand, we have Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace and its more expensive development costs. Microsoft will either find their Marketplace policies helping shape more functional, less buggy Windows Mobile applications or they’ll come up against developers’ resistance to the costly policies.

It should be interesting to see how the Marketplace plays out.

[Via: istartedsomething]

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