What is an Application Store anyway?

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Hello dear WMPU readers,
My name is Anastasios-Antonios Toulkeridis, I’m a WP developer and I decided to write this because something strange, unexpected, and troubling took place.

Have you heard of I.D.O.S. ? It’s OK if you haven’t, it is an app in its early stages that we are building (it is found in the marketplace under the publisher name Imperial Dynamics). It is Silverlight-based and it is basically a small collection of mini-apps. Don’t focus on this specific app though. What i’m about to say is relevant for a great number of apps in the marketplace and should be of concern to every WP developer.

The certification of the latest version failed. Big deal? It is… It failed because according to the report:
“The application lets the user go to an “application store” that is not Microsoft Market place.”
and according to the Windows Phone Application Certification requirement 2.3:
“Your application must not jeopardize the security or functionality of (a) Windows Phone 7 devices or (b) the Windows Phone Marketplace.”

Valid justification then. Only problem: there is no real application store in the app nor does the app link to an external one. The miniapps are all included in the submitted xap file and are all readily accessible to the user without payment or any other processing. The miniapps are totally free of charge, they are not downloaded from the internet, they are simply there, pages in the app.

What is even more interesting is that the very same miniapps are present in the released version that successfully passed certification, the only difference being that in the certified version they are all listed in the app’s main page. In the new version they are listed in a separate page. A button that says “App Store” takes the user to that page (Remember the page is local, not on the internet).

It may be best if i showed you the version that failed certification:

Do you think the tester was right in rejecting the app on the grounds of taking users to another application store? Where does one draw the line? What makes that page an application store? Is it because the button that links to the page says “App Store”. What if it said “Extra functionality” or even nothing at all? What then?

Is it because the two words “App Store” are exclusive to Apple?

Should we resubmit the app as it is in the hope that a different tester will find it acceptable? I’d really really like to read your thoughts on this issue.

Thank you so much for reading this article.

Editors Note: It is of note that Microsoft has now allowed emulators into the app store which are allowed to download content directly from the internet which likely flaunt most of Microsoft’s content policy e.g. the ones against violence. It seems the system does have some degree of arbitrariness to it, much like the iPhone App Store certification process, and whether you get through or not depends on which examiner you get.