Windows Marketplace app fees come under new fire

Microsoft's plans to institute additional fees for developers who submit more than five applications per year to its forthcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile virtual storefront are coming under new scrutiny after a Twitter post credited to the Windows Mobile team indicates that software upgrades will count as new application submissions. Earlier this month, Microsoft outlined pricing and revenue sharing details for Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which the software giant first announced in February--in exchange for promising developers 70 percent of all revenues, premium and free pricing flexibility, and transparency throughout the certification process, Microsoft said it would charge an annual registration fee of $99 and limit the number of applications that developers can submit per year to just five. Each additional app submission will cost another $99.

While the wisdom of the Windows Marketplace policy has been a subject of debate among developers since the submission rules were first announced, the vast majority of programmers assumed Microsoft would only begin assessing additional fees for new and distinct applications beyond the first five apps. But following a Windows Mobile team tweet dated March 20 and reading "through the end of 2009, initial registrants will get 5 free app submissions. Upgrades/updates are new app submissions," blogger Long Zheng--who in September 2008 first identified Microsoft's Windows Marketplace for Mobile plans--subsequently confirmed with company sources that "application updates will count as new application submissions, and therefore will count towards the first five free submissions, or will cost $99 each after that." As Zheng notes, "What this means to developers is that if they submit one application to the marketplace, they have only four opportunities to update that application a year. Whilst most commercial applications do not update as frequently as four times per year, much of the gem that's in the iPhone App Store and on hobbyist WM development sites like XDA-developers are casual projects and receive a flood of updates during its early days as bugs are squashed and polish added."

Zheng adds that Microsoft also will not grant exceptions to the rules for free applications--theoretically meaning some developers could find themselves paying $99 for the privilege of submitting an application that will generate no revenue--and that if an application is rejected, Microsoft will treat a resubmitted version as a brand-new app and charge accordingly. Needless to say, some developers are outraged: "If developers have to pay to apply bug fixes (which in themselves are unlikely to attract additional customers), the chances of even recovering expenses diminish with each fix or enhancement," writes developer Kevin Daly in response to Zheng's post, adding "This is brainless."

For more on the Windows Marketplace for Mobile fees:
- read this I Started Something article