announced a number of changes to its mobile application submission process for Windows Phone 7 to address concerns and confusion cited by its developer community. The changes were made in response to this developer feedback, says Microsoft, and are designed to streamline the overall process, add clarity and generally "make your life easier," Microsoft explains.Microsoft recently
Described below, these changes will go into effect on June 3 for all new applications and app updates.
Changes Promise More Reliable Apps
These changes better detail the application certification process for Windows Phone, plus the policies and procedures involved. Microsoft has also added several test steps to the technical certification requirements to help developers conduct in-house app testing during the development cycle. This was done in order for developers to avoid "common certification pitfalls" and to "improve the pass rates and certification times," the company explained via blog post.
The new requirements are documented here.
Microsoft says that apps will be reviewed to ensure that they are reliable, make efficient use of resources, do not interfere with the phone functionality and are free of malicious software.
What the Five Policy Categories Include
Windows Phone apps will now have to meet these five major categories of policies and requirements:
- Application Policies: These 14 policies are meant to protect the Windows Phone Marketplace service and users of that service in addition to addressing mobile operator requirements. They include things like restrictions application sizes (nothing over 20 MB), how trial versions of apps should operate, how APIs should and should not be used, how personal information is gathered, the use of notifications and more. Also, the guidelines dictate that your app cannot promote alternative mobile app stores for Windows Phone apps or games.
- Content Policies: The content policy guidelines deal with things like how licensed, trademarked and copyrighted content is handled, plus what sort of content is restricted. At this time, that includes illegal, obscene (or indecent) content, content that promotes harm or violence against people or animals, hate speech or discriminatory content, realistic or gratuitous violence, defamatory, libelous, slanderous or threatening content, content featuring alcohol, tobacco, weapons or drugs, adult content, content promoting illegal activity or including excessive profanity.
- Application Submission Requirements: This section details the requirements which are checked during the submission process, including checking the metadata and validating the XAP file uploaded. Specifically, the guidelines address XAP package file sizes, code validation processes, phone capabilities detection, language validation, Windows Phone Marketplace iconography, plus the use of screenshots and tile images.
- Technical Certification Requirements: These requirements are for games only, and detail the requirements for reliability, performance, resource management, phone functionality, security, content validation and technical support information.
- Additional Requirements for Specific Application Types: This last section focuses on specific application types, including location-aware apps, those using push notifications, those that run while the phone is locked, apps integrated into the "Music + Videos" hub as well as the non-integrated apps that also play media and the apps that integrate with the built-in photo application or offer photo-sharing features.
The Certification and Code Signing Process
Also detailed in this policy update is the certification process itself. This image (below) depicts a simplified version of the process, including the following 11 steps (also below). Note that this process is the same for updates as for new submissions.
- Sign in to your account in App Hub.
- Create a new application submission.
- Upload the application XAP file.
- Enter the metadata for the application, such as title, description, category, and iconography.
- Select the distribution countries/regions and pricing.
- The XAP file is validated while you are entering metadata.
- If the XAP file validation succeeds, the submission process continues to Step 8; otherwise, the process terminates and you get a notification. Select the option to publish immediately after passing the certification process or to wait until you decide to publish.
- The XAP file is repackaged as described in Section 4.1.2.
- The repackaged XAP file is deployed to a phone for the certification testing. Certification involves the automated and manual verification of the meeting of the requirements that are described in Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
- If the application meets all the requirements, the repackaged XAP and assembly files are signed, and the application is eligible for publication according to the option selected in Step #8.
- If the application fails one or more of the requirements, you get a failure report and the application is not published.
All apps must be signed with a Microsoft-issued Authenticode certification before they can be installed and run on users' devices. The code signing will occur automatically when the app successfully passes the certification process.
Developers with questions or additional feedback can offer that in the forum thread found here.