updated 11:25 am EDT, Wed September 16, 2009
Win Mobile Marketplace can remote delete
The upcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile will let Microsoft remotely delete apps from Windows Mobile phones without the user's consent, the company said in a presentation as part of its Tech·Ed New Zealand conference. In the event an app is approved but later pulled, Microsoft will automatically wipe the app from every phone that had previously downloaded the app. It's not clear if Microsoft will also automatically refund paid downloads.
The move is unusual and contrasts sharply with Apple's approach to iPhone apps. It so far has made no attempt to remotely delete apps that it has pulled from the App Store. In its terms of service for the store, Apple warns only that it may pull content from the store itself. Microsoft did note that it will continue to let users download and install Windows Mobile apps from outside the Marketplace.
A policy such as Microsoft's has already proven controversial in the past, as Amazon remotely deleted books from Kindles without readers' advance knowledge or permission. The titles had been illegally published and therefore weren't allowed on the store, but enough readers criticized the step that Amazon voluntarily compensated those affected by the retraction.
The company also added that its policies on allowed Windows apps will be stricter than for Apple. It shares the iPhone's ban against apps that replace "core functionality" but will also reject mapping and navigation software from its store. Why this is hasn't been detailed at this stage, but Apple so far has encouraged turn-by-turn GPS apps for its handhelds ever since iPhone 3.0 was released earlier this year.