Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

Summary: Microsoft is readying private and beta marketplace access for Windows Phone as part of its "Mango" update coming this fall.


One of the many business-focused features missing from the first-generation Windows Phone 7 phones is the ability to "side load" beta and private applications.

A year ago, Microsoft officials said the company was still evaluating how and when to add the sideloading capability, something of interest to many enterprise customers, to its consumer-centric phones. I asked again at Mix '11 this week about this feature and was told Microsoft was working on a way to add "deep linking" to phones, so that private applications would be accessible to select groups of users with appropriate log-in credentials. But the Softies said they had no more specifics to share at this time.

Well, it looks like some specifics were shared, after all, during this week's Mix '11 conference. Mobility Digest (which I found via a link on the site) picked up on one attendee's tweets during the conference about the coming private/beta marketplace functionality.

The private/beta capability will be rolled out as part of the "Mango" Windows Phone 7 release this fall. Private apps will have no time or download limit, but will not be searchable in the public Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. Beta apps will be limited to 100 users and will expire after 90 days. Windows Phone beta apps must be free, while the private apps may be free or paid.

App developers will be able to make beta versions of their Windows Phone apps available to WP users with this functionality. And businesses will be able to make custom applications available to their employees and/or partners only using the private marketplace.

In other Windows Phone news this week, Microsoft shared with Mix '11 attendees the specifications for a new Windows Phone chassis, as first noted by (Microsoft originally outlined plans for three different chassis for WP7, and required OEMs to adhere to those chassis specs in their phone designs.)  The new Windows Phone chassis supports new Qualcomm system-on-a-chip processors and makes optional gyroscope support.

Update (April 16): Silverlight/WPF blogger Walt Ritscher has a thoughtful post on his perceived shortcomings of Microsoft's future beta/private marketplace plans. Ritscher said Microsoft execs at Mix said there wouldn't be access control functionality provided as part of the private marketplace, limiting its potential appeal for enterprise users.

I re-asked Microsoft about the log-in credential information and received the following clarification from a company spokesperson:

"A log-in isn’t required for deep links, though the app developer does have control over who accesses their application.

"'Private' distribution allows developers to provide access to certified applications via hidden links with no limit on number of users or time. Credentials are not required to access hidden links, though as with all Windows Phone 7 applications, developers may require verification within their application to access content or functionality. "

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Telcos, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • It won't do any good, as Windows Phone 7 is still unfit for business

    Businesses and Enterprises will not touch Windows Phone 7.<br><br>It lacks all the basics required for corporate use. There's no IPsec security, no on-device encryption, strong passwords are prohibited. All businesses run static IP addresses, which Windows Phone 7 does not understand.

    Even the Calendar app has no simple 'Weekly' view. The list of past phone calls is just a single list, and cannot be separated into inbound, outbound or missed calls.
    • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

      @zndac <br>Thanks for copying directly from Wikipedia.
      • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

        @day2die Are you envious :)<br><a href="">Termopan</a>
    • Thank you for another &quot;unbiased&quot; opinion zndac

      now maybe you can comeup with something original, not that anyone here thinks thats possible. :)
      Will Farrell
    • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

      @zndac - Maybe, just possibly, if they're planning on opening the doors for enterprise deployments of WinPhone, Microsoft might, also be remedying the issues you note above (along with certificate deployment for access to secured enterprise WiFi).
    • Really?

      "All businesses run static IP addresses, which Windows Phone 7 does not understand."

      Maybe in 1994. I don't know any business that doesn't have DHCP enabled for all of their end user devices whether they are hardwired or wireless.

      Most end users would have no clue how to input an IP address into any device, whether it's Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS, Android etc etc.
    • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

      @gjafg yes we all the accept that many Businesses and Enterprises not touch Windows Phone 7. <a href="">book reports</a> | <a href="">Admission essays</a> | <a href="">theses</a>
  • That's great. MS should also work on ...

    ... its adPub advertising service. The service essentially recycles banner ads for web pages, for placement in WP7 apps. Many times the ads look ugly, and are eyesores. I think MS should get some user experience guys to ensure that ads displayed by its ad service in WP7 apps, look consistently good / slick. (E.g. ads that can determine the background colors of the mobile apps they are situated, and automatically blend their colors with those of the apps, would be great.)

    Ads could range from text ads to very immersive ads. I believe many ads could be produced by advertisers filling out information on web pages, then choosing ad templates which are used to automatically generate mobile ad experiences. The ad experiences could be reviewed and maybe spruced up by user experience guys, before they are released into the system.

    It would also be great if MS expanded its ad service into international markets.
    P. Douglas
    • The Importance Of Ad User Experiences

      My point above is very important, because if the user experiences of ads in WP7 apps are compelling, users will be much more inclined to tap on and explore ads, making ads more valuable to advertisers. Really compelling ads will make users not only tolerate looking at them, but want to spend time in them - and even enjoy them. So user experience is actually very, very important for ads.

      Ads with great user experiences also benefit users by giving them an overall great app user experience, making them inclined to acquire and stay in apps longer, leading to more ad revenue for AdPub and developers. Having really slick ads will drive up the value of online ads in apps - which will be all the more true for tablets - benefiting most everyone.
      P. Douglas
  • Message has been deleted.

  • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

    LoL. Ad Hoc distribution is limited to 100 devices and 90 days. WP7 team "inspired" by iPhone
    • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones


      No that's just for the [b]beta[/b] apps. Maybe you should read the rest of the blog too.
  • Will this enable homebrew?

    x I'm tc
  • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

    Private marketplace for businesses to give employees apps? Absolutely not!

    Why in the world would Microsoft do that? Why would a business ever need to charge their own employees for apps designed specifically for them? Why would a business *ever* risk other people getting access to their businesses applications? Crazy PERIOD.

    The Private marketplace is (IMO) designed to allow "inappropriate" apps on Windows Phone, without allowing children to be able to find porn apps simply by browsing the market. The developer would simply put up a link for users to get those "inappropriate" apps.

    Yes, children could *still* get those apps, but hey, if they found them on those porn sites, its not like they weren't already exposed.

    I think it makes sense, at least more so than having an employee pay for a company application.
    • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

      AFAIK, there are no porn apps currently in Windows Phone Market. Of course Android and Windows mobile do have, but not Windows Phone. I think you are confused with Windows Mobile. Also Enterprises will not charge their employees for the apps, those apps will be distributed freely through Zune Marketplace like it does currently with Apple. Of course Apple has Adhoc distribution, and I think something better than that would eventually come to both AppStore and WindowsPhone Marketplace once enterprises adopt iPhone and WP7 replacing or minimizing BB.
      Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones


        I am not at all confused... I am aware there are no such apps for Windows Phone, but this would allow developers to make such apps, have them be in the market, but not discoverable through searching.

        As I said, the problem with companies distributing apps with the "Private markertplace" is that anyone could get access to these companies apps simply by having a link. Sure, they need to figure out the URL, but its likely that some employee will spread it around.
      • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

        It's highly unlikely that the Private Marketplace will be accessible without some security in place. It's more likely that Enterprises will build their own Marketplaces which will sit someplace like internal Sharepoint, either on premises or in the Microsoft cloud, like Office 365.
  • Message has been deleted.

  • RE: Microsoft readies private marketplace feature for Windows Phones

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