Microsoft Responds to Our Woes, Publishing on Windows Phone Marketplace Much Improved

In July, I wrote about our experiences with publishing Windows Phone apps on the Marketplace and compared it to walking barefoot on broken glass. Few months leading up to the post we had horrible experiences with publishing Windows Phone apps that broke the camel’s back and I felt I had to share what’s been going on in hopes of improvement. I’m glad to say things have much improved on the Marketplace front since then.

What happened next

The blog post generated quite a lot of interest and a lively debate on Hacker News. It turned out that the post was making the rounds at Microsoft as well, as the next day Joe Belfiore, VP of Windows Phone at Microsoft replied in the comments apologising and promising improvements. It was very refreshing seeing people very high up at Microsoft responding directly to developer concerns. It’s something that Apple is very much unwilling to do, so Microsoft’s approach was truly a breath of fresh air.

 

In fact the next week I had a call with the team in charge of the Windows Phone Marketplace and we went through the issues that we faced in the past months. They explained some of the background issues and promised improvements soon. Since they were obviously instructed by the management to initiate this meeting to appease us I was a bit sceptical about the actual delivery on these promises.
Luckily, I was soon very pleasantly surprised. Microsoft indeed updated their Windows Phone Dev Center and addressed most of the issues that were causing us problems. Let’s look at our original complaints and whether they were addressed.

 

Publishing apps worldwide – mostly fixed
With the update, they’ve expanded the developer registration to a lot more countries, including Slovenia and have quickly been adding new ones. Microsoft guys mentioned that they were previously using some of the components from the xBox publishing side, thus bring a lot of legacy issues such as illogically limited country support along. We’re glad that’s fixed now.

 

Publishing tools – mostly fixed
Uploading is much nicer now, Silverlight components make a lot less appearances making for a much nicer process. I can finally enter data normally in various browsers. The new layout is also much clearer and pleasing to the eyes. Some questionable UX decisions still remain and I’m clueless why the latest statistics I can get for app downloads are a week old, but other than the statistics the Dev Publishing tools are now better or on-par with other app marketplaces.

 

 

Publishing time – fixed
This is an area with really big improvements for us. We needed more than a month to get the app up last time due to slow response times and incomprehensible rejections, but lately that time has really improved. We suspect that we might have been especially flagged due to the publicity from the last post so your mileage may vary, but we generally get the app approved by the Marketplace team in about 3 days. It’s a big improvement and much faster than the week or two Apple’s App Store usually takes.

 

Moving apps to other accounts – ?
To be honest we can’t really update on this one since we haven’t attempted this since the last time. If any of our readers have info on the possibility of moving apps among developer accounts please let us know.

 

Ridiculous morality standards – probably fixed
After quite long discussions we came to the conclusion that the funny sentences in our apps probably had nothing to do with the rejection. Turns out that they simply lumped all the local-rejection reasons into one policy, thus bundling together a China Bing maps issue with morality standards of Quatar and leaving the developer in the dark about what was actually the issue. They mentioned they fixed that, but I’d be curious to know if anyone got rejected for similar reasons lately and how were the reasons communicated?

 

In conclusion, many things have been improved and I certainly hope they continue to make lives of developers easier. The update my previous metaphor, publishing on the Windows Phone Marketplace is no longer like walking barefoot on broken glass, but reminds much more of a barefoot stroll on a pebble beach. What we’d like to see now is that beach become more popular with more people. We’d prefer to be flexing our abs on a beach where more than a few percent of the hot girls come to.

 

Good luck Windows Phone, may your user experiences be smooth!