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5/26/2009
03:00 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Sharing Apps From Windows Marketplace

Roughly two weeks ago, Microsoft announced you would be able to install apps you purchase from their as yet unreleased Windows Marketplace For Mobile store on up to five devices. They have now clarified that this is for up to five of your phones, not phones of friends and family members.

Roughly two weeks ago, Microsoft announced you would be able to install apps you purchase from their as yet unreleased Windows Marketplace For Mobile store on up to five devices. They have now clarified that this is for up to five of your phones, not phones of friends and family members.The online community's confusion is understandable. It was reported that Microsoft product planner Daniel Bouie said the Marketplace would allow users to share apps by authorizing phones of friends or family members to use the apps you purchased.

Microsoft has now come out and clarified what they really meant to say and how the store will actually work. A Microsoft spokesman has this to say:

Microsoft knows the frustration of losing favorite apps and personal information when you lose, upgrade, or add a phone. For this reason, if you buy an application on Windows Marketplace for Mobile, you'll be able to reinstall the application on a limited number of additional phones simply and free of charge. As outlined in the terms of use for Windows Marketplace for Mobile, this ability is limited to phones owned by the person who purchased the application. Application sharing is not permitted. We believe people will find a high value in mobile applications they purchase through the Windows Marketplace, and we will also be offering a refund policy that will make it easier to shop for applications with confidence.

They didn't specify how this feature would work, but I suspect the application will be registered to a Windows Live ID and that will track the registrations. I hope the Marketplace has the ability to reset your installation count or "forget" them over a period of time, much like the MS activation server does for desktop applications. For most users, five installs is plenty, but for a few, it might not be enough. I know some mobile device users that frequently hard reset their device, which wipes out the memory and restores the device to an out of the box condition. Developers may also have a rotation of devices they use for personal use and testing, and they may need more than five installs in a year or so.

What I do like about this though is this may finally be the end of endless registration keys for users to keep up with. I have accumulated dozens if not over a hundred registration keys for applications this past decade for my phone. Some that I purchased in 2000 still work for updated versions of the applications, others require new keys every major revision. Some are ridiculously long and make Microsoft CD Keys look short by comparison. It takes forever to get everything installed and registered on a new or freshly reset device. If the Marketplace keeps up with this going forward, I should be able to just install everything and let my Windows Live ID take care of it, assuming I purchased it from the Marketplace to begin with.

That brings up an interesting question. If I purchased Application X from a vendor this year for my Windows Mobile 6.1 device, will I be able to "transfer" that purchase to the Marketplace so it keeps up with it going forward - assuming I've moved on to WinMo 6.5 of course? If not, it could literally be years before current consumers of WinMo apps can take full advantage of the Marketplace features.

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