Microsoft is slowly breaking down the barriers they had erected themselves with new Marketplace policies and features.
The latest change is the ability for developers to distribute beta apps to pre-selected testers via Marketplace.
Charlie Kindel writes:
Developers will identify their beta-testers and then upload their application to the developer portal. The Windows Phone application deployment system will then ensure that the application is available on the beta-testerâ€™s phones via a â€œdeep linkâ€ the tester will receive in email. Weâ€™ll be rolling this mechanism out as we finalize the developer portal this fall.
The need to identify beta testers likely prevents this feature from being used as a loophole for installing arbitrary â€œbetaâ€ apps to everyone via Marketplace, but certainly the system appears increasingly open and comfortable, if not as completely free for all as Windows Mobile is at the moment.
Microsoft also mentions this method will likely mature and expand in the future to allow corporate customers to distribute internal apps only to company employees.
Announcements such as these can do a lot to reassure the community (both general users and enterprise) as to the direction Microsoft is taking with Windows phone 7, and I hope the company shares a lot more of their roadmap for the future of the OS.
Read more at the Windows Team Blog here.