Here’s an really interesting reality check that will help you cut through the PR talk about the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. Microsoft and its supporters (I’m one of them but I’m not blind) love to boast about the 7000+ apps currently available and the 2K+ registered developers. Unfortunately, just like in Apple’s Appstore case, everything isn’t rosy. The certification process is seriously flawed. How many totally buggy and unusable applications are currently certified? Tons of them! Even so called “featured applications” like IMDB or AP Mobile suffer from serious bugs since October and have never been updated/fixed. Anyway, what’s even worst than certifying unusable applications it’s the fact that MS is rejecting updates that are meant to fix buggy applications! Here’s the story of Shawn Wildermuth, who’s a Microsoft MVP and developer of several WP7 applications (note that he also was really active prior to the platform launch with great WP7 dev tutorials). He finally decided to pull out his GooNews application from the Marketplace and no longer update or support his other apps because of Microsoft abyssal support:
A small expert:
Problem 5: The Marketplace…Again!
I was asked by a number of users for some new features including localizing the feeds into different markets. I spent another weekend supporting 22 different localized versions of the feeds so that users could use the app to get news for their area/language. Wasn’t too hard (I didn’t localize the UI just the feeds). I submitted an update with this feature and everyone seemed pretty happy. This was about the fourth update for the app (though I can’t quite remember the exactly #).
I found an inconsistency in the app in that the custom news feeds were not being localized so I found a way to address that and I submitted the application and it broke badly. But this update was *approved*. I realized the problem was with the way I was serializing the settings and quickly got an update to address the broken application. That is where the Marketplace started getting bad.
I submitted the quick update to fix the broken version of the app and it took about five days to test the app and when it was rejected, it was rejected for a feature that had been their since v1. They complained that when a user clicks on a link in the WebBrowser control that hitting the back button should take them to the last story they were on instead of back to the list of stories. (NOTE: Not a single user/reviewer ever complained to my knowledge of this, just the tester). Remember, five days of a broken app out there on phones.
So I resubmitted it and asked for a technical exception because the WebBrowser control doesn’t let you do this reliably and moving it to the WebBrowserTask is too buggy. We’re at day 10 waiting to be tested. That means my broken version has been out there for 15 days and if you read the recent reviews you can see many users have given up on the app since an update hasn’t show up.
After about 5 days I contacted support and things got trippy. The first response was that it was taking longer because my account hadn’t been “vetted and activated”. Huh? I’ve had a Marketplace account since the announcement at DevConnections six months ago. A second response said, sorry they were confused and that my app had been tested and released. But the app they mentioned wasn’t my app but another account’s app. The third curt email said that I should wait because it takes two weeks to test an app and that I should be patient. Nice customer service!
Am I Giving up on Windows Phone 7?
No. I own a phone and like the platform and technology. I think that once they figure out their customer service issues, it’ll be a good experience. I know a lot of developers who have had good experiences with the Marketplace. I just don’t have enough time to deal with the ineptitude. I won’t be updating my existing applications or submitting new ones until I am satisfied that the Customer Service, http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifTesting and Support issues are solved. Its not worth my time.
Besides the need for OS updates Microsoft really has to work on the Marketplace and everything surrounding it (security, developer support, tighter certification process). As I said in my Windows Phone 7 review; the platform definitely feels rushed out and Microsoft has to move quickly because the competition isn’t standing still (and is a couple of years ahead of them..). I’m definitely taking my sweet time with the WP7 MobileTechWorld application and won’t get it out until MS finally fix most of the Marketplace issues.