Microsoft is taking a number of steps designed to “keep the quality bar high in our rapidly growing Marketplace,” as the number of titles available for its Windows Phone platform increases.
Unlike Google’s Android Market, Microsoft is taking a role in approving apps for sale via its store, more akin to the policies of Apple’s App Store.
However, the company has already faced criticisms about delays in its approvals mechanism, as the store rolls out to more international markets.
As the number of markets where the Windows Phone Marketplace is available grows, the company has begun operating in more territories with religious or cultural limitations, for example with China, Malaysia and Indonesia recently added to the list, and several Middle East markets in the pipeline.
In a blog post, the company said that it has recently been pulling more apps accused of trademark abuse, after complaints from legitimate owners. It was noted that while these are often unintentional, “these investigations – and the time and money they can cost – can be avoided by doing a little homework” before submitting an app.
In line with this, it has pointed developers to its content policy concerning trademarks and a related Q+A, as well as highlighting a search tool offered by the US Trademark and Patent Office.
Microsoft also provided details on its stance toward bulk publishing – a topic it has addressed several times previously.
It noted that some developers are submitting the same app across several categories – and that this action will see it “removed from the catalogue.” In addition, similar but different apps – for example collections of quotations – must now feature images that “reflect the unique features of each individual app.”
The company is also tightening up its stance with regard to the keywords used to describe an app. A previously announced limit of five words is now being enforced, with apps violating this having all keywords removed – developers can subsequently add five back again. It also notes that it will delete popular keywords used that are unrelated to an app’s function.
Finally, Microsoft addressed its position with regard to apps that are “racy or sexual in nature,” noting that “we think the right solution is to be transparent about what’s acceptable and to show the right merchandise to the right customer in the right place.”
The company said that having decided to introduce “a more stringent interpretation and enforcement of our existing policy,” it will be “paying more attention to the icons, titles, and content of these apps and expect them to be more subtle and modest in the imagery and terms used.” Apps failing to meet standards will need to be updated, and the company reserves the right to remove ones that customers find offensive.
With regard to this, it said that “if you’re one of the handful of impacted developers, we will be reaching out to you within the next few days with more specific guidance on changes you need to make.”