Microsoft Marketplace counts bug-fixes as new submissions

Back when the first developer details for the Windows Marketplace for Mobile app-store emerged, Microsoft made no bones about their $99 yearly fee for developers.  That charge, they told us, included up to five submissions per year; what has now become clear is what exactly counts as a submission, and it looks as though that inclusive five will be all to easy to burn through.  For a start, application updates will count as a new submission.

What that means is that even minor bug-fixes – the sort that most mobile apps see many of in their first few weeks of distribution, as users report problems on their handsets – will count against the developer's submission allowance.  Considering that, once the first five are past, Microsoft charges $99 per submission, maintaining software could quickly become an expensive prospect. 

Microsoft will also count a resubmission of a previously-rejected application as a totally new submission, either counting against the initial allowance or provoking a charge.  Free apps are not exempt from the fees either, despite developers making no revenue from them.

A generous interpretation of the policy might conclude that Microsoft is attempting to encourage developers to put their software through more rigorous testing before submitting it, rather than prematurely distributing apps more likely to be flawed and cause poor user experiences.  What seems likely to happen is that apps will be developed, submitted and subject to bug-fixes up until the developer might have to pay for a new submission, at which point many will be abandoned.  That's not good for developers, for Microsoft, and above all it's not good for Windows Mobile users.