updated 05:15 pm EDT, Mon March 30, 2009
MS Drops 99 Update Policy
Microsoft today said it would abandon a controversial plan for its upcoming Windows Mobile Marketplace that would charge $99 for each app update past the initial five handled by its year-long developer subscriptions. Speaking to CNET, a spokesperson said the company would now let developers submit any minor or major updates to any published app for free. Additional fees will now only come with entirely new apps beyond the initial limit.
Under the old terms, the company would have charged developers the amount to submit even patches if released later than a week following the initial release, rendering it expensive to publish more than a small number of apps or to update frequently. Fears have been raised that the approach would have prevented small developers from developing freely or leave many flawed apps unchanged for weeks or months.
While Microsoft doesn't explain the reason for its decision, the reversal comes less than three weeks after its originally announced plan and is likely a response to criticism from developers that noted the relatively loose requirements for the iPhone's App Store. The Apple-run store only requires $99 per developer per year for unlimited submissions and only increases fees for enterprise-class developers that want to keep certain apps private.
Microsoft has set its terms relatively early and doesn't expect the Marketplace to open until near the release of Windows Mobile 6.5, which should be on shipping phones in the summer.