Microsoft is opening the gates of its upcoming mobile application store, and developers can now submit their programs for approval.
The Windows Marketplace for Mobile will debut in the second half of this year and will offer an over-the-air portal for Windows Mobile users to browse, buy, download, and install apps on their handsets. The company is hoping to mirror the success Apple has had with its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
To add an app to Microsoft's store, developers have to have a valid taxpayer ID and a Windows Live ID, pay $99, and sign an application provider agreement. Like the App Store, developers will be able to offer free apps or charge for programs, and they get to keep 70% of any paid app. The developer will be able to submit five apps per year, including updates, but will have to pay $99 for each additional app over that limit.
Microsoft's mobile app store is expected to launch alongside Windows Mobile 6.5 later this year, and it will put the platform on par with Apple, Google's Android Market, Research In Motion's App World, and Nokia's upcoming Ovi Store. Although more than 20 million Windows Mobile smartphones were sold last year, a lot of the developer interest appears to be moving toward the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry.
Microsoft's mobile app marketplace also will offer a 24-hour period for users to return apps, which is a missing feature in Apple's store. Additionally, Windows Mobile users will be able to buy their apps with a credit card or with carrier billing.
Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).