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Microsoft Reveals New Windows Phone Marketplace Policies

Windows Phone 7 devices aren't due until later this year, but Microsoft is talking about new policies and tools that are designed to help mobile developers realize the monetary fruits of their creations.

Windows Phone 7 developers will pay an annual registration fee of $99 to list their apps on the Windows Phone Marketplace, and that price includes the ability to list up to five free apps. Developers will have to pay $19.99 for each additional free app submission, but there's no limit on the number of paid apps they can list.

As Microsoft said when it launched Windows Phone Marketplace in March, developers will get 70 percent of the proceeds from app sales while Microsoft will get 30 percent, the same policy Apple has in place with the App Store.

Like Apple, Microsoft is also letting developers set their own prices for apps, but the software giant is sprinkling in some new options to sweeten the pot.

For example, Microsoft will offer a new push notification service as well as a service that lets developers unlock Windows Phone 7 devices for testing purposes, said Paul Bryan, senior director of product Management for Windows Phone, in an interview at Microsoft's TechEd conference in New Orleans.

Microsoft will also offer a Trial API that developers can use to give customers a chance to try an app before they buy it, with the length of the trial at the developers' discretion. When Microsoft unveiled Windows Marketplace For Mobile last July, it stressed that customers would have 24 hours to return apps, but Bryan said the company has since decided that the Trial API offers a better way to handle this.

The business side of Windows Phone Marketplace is designed to give developers the broadest possible reach. Microsoft will give developers the option of targeting their wares to specific regions or going whole hog with a new worldwide distribution capability that comes along with the registration free, according to Bryan.

In addition to free and paid apps, the marketplace will support "freemium" games -- ones that are free but include additional levels that users pay for -- as well as ad-funded apps, Bryan said.

Microsoft has also fine tuned the distribution system for Windows Phone Marketplace, allowing developers to distribute beta versions of apps to a defined set of users as they would with desktop or server applications. The company is also looking at other "private distribution" mechanisms, said Bryan, who declined to elaborate further.

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