Microsoft just announced two changes to the Windows Phone Marketplace shopping experience that developers should be aware of. First, the company is removing the option to browse and buy Windows Phone apps from the Zune PC software. This change started rolling out this afternoon.
Second, in the coming weeks, Microsoft will also start requiring that customers have Windows Phone 7.5 installed on their phone to buy, download, update, or review apps in Marketplace.
Why are we doing this? Microsoft's Mazhar Mohammed said that Marketplace is growing fast and it now has over 80,000 apps overall and is available in 54 (soon to be 63) countries around the world."
"Requiring Windows Phone 7.5 is part of a larger effort aimed at improving Marketplace performance and security, and paving the way for even faster growth and more new features," he said.
"Until today you could shop for Windows Phone apps and games in three places: on your phone, on the web, and via the Zune software on your PC….
As a general rule, we like to focus our engineering efforts where they matter most, and your taps and clicks tell us that's our phone and web stores. So starting today we began the process of removing the Windows Phone apps option from the Zune software.
….This change won't require you to do anything special. Next time you run the program, you'll simply see a pop-up letting you know features have changed," Mohammed said.
Speaking of Windows Phone 7.5 updates, he said, "That's because starting in the next few weeks anybody who wants to buy or download a new app, update an existing app, or submit app reviews to Marketplace will need WP7.5 on their phone."
"If you don't update to Windows Phone 7.5, you'll still be able to browse Marketplace. But you'll get an error message if you try to install an app or game, or update one already on your phone," Mohammed said.
Updating your phone isn't hard--typically all you need to do is plug it into your computer. Before you start the process, which can take an hour or more, check out on Update central. To install the update, follow the steps in this article.
Additionally, Microsoft released the OS software required to bring Marketplace to customers in Bahrain, Israel, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, UAE and Vietnam.
"These nine markets--which are already open for app submissions--were part of the larger Marketplace expansion I outlined last month. Our hardware partners can now create phones for these markets and begin their final launch preparations," said Todd Brix.