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Microsoft cleans up Windows Phone Marketplace

The company is hunting down apps with trademark infringement, inappropriate content, and more

In a post on the official Windows Phone Developer blog, Microsoft has promised to crack down on apps that violate its terms and conditions, including trademark infringers and apps with explicit content. These are problems that other established app stores, like the Apple App Store and Google Play Store already experience in great volume. Todd Brix, Microsoft's senior director for Windows Marketplace outlined how developers can steer clear of having their apps delisted.

Brix noted that a number of trademark violations tended to be unintentional.

"We often find trademark violations are unintentional: some developers just aren't clear on what constitutes a violation," said Brix. "Our rules boil down to this: Your registered publisher name and everything about your app-name, logo, description, screenshots-must be unique and free of trademarked content unless (1) you own the trademark, (2) you've secured permission from the owner to use it, or (3) you're using a trademarked name (not a logo) to describe your app's features or functionality without suggesting that the app is actually published by the trademark owner."

The Windows Marketplace is meant to be family-friendly, so Microsoft is also aiming at removing apps with sexually-explicit content.

"We don't allow apps containing 'sexually suggestive or provocative' images or content. What we do permit is the kind of content you occasionally see on prime-time TV or the pages of a magazine's swimsuit issue," said Brix.

"We will be paying more attention to the icons, titles, and content of these apps and expect them to be more subtle and modest in the imagery and terms used. We will also monitor customer reaction to apps and reserve the right to remove ones that our customers find offensive. While this change might require a little extra work on the part of a small number of developers, there are plenty of creative and appropriate ways to comply: showing male or female models in silhouette, for example, is one possible alternative."

Brix also cautioned developers on app spam: submitting the same app in multiple categories or submitting multiple apps with slightly different themes.

"You should pick a single category that best reflects the content and function of your app. This not only helps customers find your app but gives all developers an equal opportunity to have their app discovered where people expect. Developers who submit the same app across multiple categories will have it removed from the catalog," he said.

"When you create multiple closely-related apps-say, a series of quote apps that vary by theme-the Marketplace tile images must reflect the unique features of each individual app. They cannot be duplicates or near duplicates of each other. "

Microsoft is currently far behind Apple and Google when it comes to its app marketplace, but these improvements could provide a more consumer-friendly store. Will it be enough to entice more developers?

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Mike Williams avatar
Mike Williams: M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.
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