Microsoft offering developers 'early access' to Windows Phone 7 Marketplace

Microsoft's launch of Windows Phone 7 is a week away. On October 11, CEO Steve Ballmer and AT&T CEO and President of Mobility and Consumer, Ralph de la Vega, are kicking off officially the WP7 rolout in New York City. Microsoft is rushing to fill the Windows Phone 7 pipeline with apps so that the new Windows Phone Marketplace will be ready this month, as well.

Microsoft's launch of Windows Phone 7 is a week away. On October 11, CEO Steve Ballmer and AT&T CEO and President of Mobility and Consumer, Ralph de la Vega, are kicking off officially the WP7 rolout in New York City.

Microsoft is rushing to fill the Windows Phone 7 pipeline with apps so that the new Windows Phone Marketplace will be ready this month, as well.

Company officials are planning to allow "early access" to the Marketplace to a "couple thousand developers," as Microsoft Student Partner Pradeep noted on October 4. The Redmondians told developers on October 4 that those who have apps and games ready to go and want to be first to obtain certification need to notify the team by noon PT on October 6 by sending an email to myxapnow@microsoft.com.

The new Marketplace won't be available to customers and many developers until some time in November, according to an October 4 post to the Windows Phone Team Blog. But early access developers will have access to the Marketplace in October.

Update: I guess I didn't understand the November date. A Microsoft spokesperson clarified for me on October 5 that the Marketplace is already available to customers with Windows Phone 7 devices. (Yes, the majority of customers won't be able to get phones here in the U.S. until November, but those lucky ones who can get them earlier have Marketplace access. "The November date is when open app submission will be available to all developers. Previous to November, it’s the early certification developers who will be submitting their xap files. Test and near final apps and games are already showing up on pre-production devices," the spokesperson said.

"All requests will be evaluated on a first come, first serve basis. From these requests an initial group of developers will be provided access and guidance on submitting their apps through the new certification process. After the first wave of app submissions we will gradually ramp-up access to additional developers on a weekly basis," according to an e-mail message Microsoft sent to testers today.

On October 11, Microsoft is planning to send instructions on how to submit Marketplace applications to those approved under early certification. The company is planning to expand early-app submission approvals every week after October 11, officials said.

By the way: Contrary to some reports, Windows Phone 7 devices won't be available only on AT&T only here in the U.S. this year. Microsoft also is holding a separate press conference with T-Mobile on October 11 to announce GSM devices that will be available on T-Mobile. CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint aren't expected to offer Windows Phone 7 phones until some time in 2011, Microsoft officials admitted recently.