Windows Phone apps: how do you know if you get support?

It's good to see quite a few developers agreeing that having support contact details in apps is a really good idea - good enough that it should still be mandatory for Windows Phone 7. Discussing with various people over the weekend something struck me; there's no way to tell in advance on the phone whether the app I'm looking at in Marketplace has a support contact.

It's good to see quite a few developers agreeing that having support contact details in apps is a really good idea - good enough that it should still be mandatory for Windows Phone 7. Discussing with various people over the weekend something struck me; there's no way to tell in advance on the phone whether the app I'm looking at in Marketplace has a support contact. If I look on the Web or Zune marketplace I can see the contact details and even contact the developer before I buy to ask a question (as a reviewer I've found that invaluable for reaching out to developers; another good reason to have it in there - the easier you are to reach with a question, the more likely you are to get publicity for your app). On the phone version of Marketplace, I can't see if there's a contact address before I install the app. That made sense when every app had a support contact; why take up valuable space on the small screen with something I'll have in the app when I need it? But if I am not going to get a support contact, I don't want to spend money on your app (even if there is a refund process) - and I want to know that in advance. If I have to go and check on the PC (or even the browser on the phone), I might never get around to buying the app, even if it does have support… So if there's no longer a guaranteed support contact for every app, apps that don't have that need to have this indicated clearly, in advance, on the phone.

I know I'm being very picky here. I know that if you're making 99p for each app you sell, you may not have the time to offer support; but Windows Phone 7 isn't the cheap, cheerful, chat-room-supported phone - it's the phone with the intuitive and beautifully designed user experience. Skimping on that in any way to get more apps in the store might not be the smartest way forward… And while there are a lot of smart developers, relying on them to do the right thing on their own doesn't put the end user first; something I though Microsoft had finally learned to do with Windows Phone 7.

Mary Branscombe

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