Corporations will not create internal Windows Phone 7 applications unless they have a way to restrict deployment of their apps to controlled list of registered phones. As it stands today, it is not possible to do private deployments. The next version of Windows Phone 7, known as Mango, aims to change that. Microsoft previewed the upcoming changes to the Marketplace at their web conference (Mix11). There will be three areas to deploy apps: Public Marketplace , Private Marketplace and Beta Marketplace. Be sure and read the details below but be aware: Private Marketplace as envisioned by Microsoft is not the much anticipated Enterprise Marketplace.
It’s still early times, Mango will not ship before September 2011, so realize that the details many change as we get closer to ship date.
Let’s start with the current marketplace offering. In Mango terms this is called Public Marketplace. To deploy an app to the phone currently you must do one of the following.
Developer Account: Sign up for a developer account at AppHub ($99 USD). Unlock your developer phones and sideload the app. Limited to 10 sideloaded apps on the phone at any one time.
Jailbreak: Find a way to jail break your phone, then side load apps.
Public Marketplace: Sign up for a developer account at AppHub. Upload your app to the AppHub server. The app will go through the certification process and if approved it is published to the marketplace.
Public apps are available for anyone with a phone and can be discovered by searching the Zune Marketplace. The apps must pass certification before being published.
Currently if you want to test a new WP7 app you email a few of your developer friends and ask them if they will sideload your XAP onto their phone. The new Beta Marketplace will make testing pre-release apps easier.
With Beta Marketplace you solicit testers for your upcoming release. These users can be company employees, or they can come from from the general public. If they volunteer they must provide you with their LiveIDs. You can have up to 100 testers per beta marketplace. The developer adds the tester LiveIDs to the beta marketplace and sends an invitation email to the tester. The invitation email includes a deep link to the beta XAP.
Tester must login to Zune before they can install the beta application. If they are not on the approved list, they will not be able to install the application.
This is good. The tester does not have to be a developer, doesn’t have to an unlocked phone and Microsoft controls the whether they can install the application.
Each beta marketplace is open for 90 days and then is automatically closed. Though not stated by Microsoft I believe you can create more than one beta marketplace( to add more than 100 users). Obviously you can create other beta marketplaces as you release improved versions of your beta app.
Since you are releasing a beta, Microsoft doesn’t require the app to go through certification. That means you can upload the XAP and instantly have it available to your tester community.
Some would call this the Enterprise Marketplace. I’d say that they need to listen to what Microsoft said at Mix11.
"It is not an enterprise software distribution mechanism, by any means, but it is a way of distributing applications and games to a set of users " -Todd Brix
The only difference between a Private and Public marketplace is the ease of discoverability to the general public. Because the app in not listed in the Zune marketplace, you cannot search and find the app. Therefore, in order to distribute the app you must send a deep link to your intended audience.
Other than the discoverability difference your app is handled the same as a public marketplace app. It must pass certification. It can be updated to a new version and users will automatically received update notifications. You can create a free or paid version of your app.
You can share the app deep link with friends, magazine writers, bloggers etc. and they can preview and use the application. Since the app is certified, you can easily change it to public at a later time.
Microsoft has not announced an Enterprise marketplace yet. That hasn’t stopped some people from assuming that the Private marketplace is the enterprise solution however. In fact I made the same mistake when I was live tweeting the Mix11 event this week.
Here is what make Private marketplaces unsuitable for enterprise distribution.
Private by obscurity
You give your users a deep link to the the application that takes them to the install page. The app is not listed in the Marketplace, or findable through marketplace search. But if they share the deep link with with another phone user, then that friend can install that app too. My guess it that the community will figure out how to find private deep links within days of the release of Mango.
No access control:
Any phone user can install your application, provided they can find the deep link. There is no way to restrict access to a set of users, like in the beta marketplace.
I’m really excited about the Beta marketplace as it makes it easy to test and share applications with a list of users. I don’t see much benefit from Private marketplaces yet, perhaps I don’t understand the use case for them.
I’m severely disappointed that Microsoft hasn’t produced a better enterprise story. I hope they are waiting until later in the Mango lifecycle to share there plans for real enterprise deployment.
Here is a table that summarizes the differences between the proposed new marketplaces.
|# of Users||Unlimited||Unlimited||100|
|App Price||Free, Paid||Free, Paid||Free|
|Lifetime||Forever||Forever||Closed after 90 days|
|Access Control||None||None||Restricted to published list of Live ID’s|