If you read the WP7 application certifications you will not see a prohibition against alternative web browsers so you would think they would be permissible (provided they otherwise followed the app submission guidelines). Well that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from blocking a web browser alternative. Daniel Vaughan and Katka Vaughan had their app rejected because: Reason “failed testcase 2.1 because its primarily functionality is a web browsing experience”.

If this is accurate then Microsoft is really showing developers the red carpet. Not only have they failed to provide critical APIs and socket support but then they reject apps that are alternatives to Microsoft’s own apps.

I know we have some readers from Redmond. Any official response?

UPDATE: Brandon Watson says it’s miscomunication and an official response is coming.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I thought that was known since MWC 2010 or MIX2010? You can code a new shell with extended functionality (i.e. tabs) for the IE rendering engine, but you can’t code a new browser with a different engine. Nothing new here.

  2. Funny timing, because meanwhile in Norway:

    With standing ovations, Opera Software will debut the brand new Opera Mini browser on Android, BlackBerry, Symbian/Series 60 and J2ME phones. The Opera Mobile 11 will bring the music on the Android, Symbian, Windows 7 and MeeGo platforms. As a bonus track, Opera will give the crowd a sneak peek of the new Opera Mini browser doing its magic on the iPhone and iPad.
    http://www.opera.com/press/releases/2011/03/17_2/

    New, the PR says “Windows 7”, but it can only be WP7, because it wouldn’t make much sense to release it on Windows 7. That would also mean Opera has access to the native SDK.

  3. I don’t want to start a flame here, so please understand that I am not asking this to get folks mad. I am asking because I truly do not understand. I am running an overclocked Tilt 2 with an XDA WM 6.5 rom. My today screen has realtime updating items for texts, chats, email, calendar, rss feeds, and SPB Plus. All of these are third part plugins – I don’t use most of the apps that came with the OS. All the apps I use most often are at most 2 taps away in SPB. One tap on the tab, one on the app. I have three different browsers installed – besides IE, and mostly use Opera Mini. There are tons of apps out there. As far as I can tell, the only positive out of upgrading to a Windows Phone OS is newer hardware, and better gaming (I only play Boggle and Uno anyway…). And the list of negatives, well, just read the blogs here about all the issues, large and small, with WP7 and it’s closed system.
    So can someone please explain to me what I am missing? What is the draw of WP7 over WM 6.5?

  4. @freeway: “it is Windows 7 (the PC OS) which is also used on certain tablets…Also Windows 7 is used on certain touch desktop devices as well.”

  5. @Joe Green: As a long time Windows Mobile user, there’s a big leap between the platforms in terms of stability and smoothness. WP7 runs like butter and has great battery life. The apps that are written for it are generationally ahead of WM in terms of look, feel, capabilities. Agreed that it is lacking some things we all loved about being upon, but you should go to a store and paly with a Windows Phone and you’ll see how well it performs in reality.

  6. @ Joe: Coming from an old Fuze owner, WM 6.x had all the functionality I could ever want, but the tranitions were choppy and the crashes were frequent. If that’s not your experience, you may want to hang tight in the not so distant past.
    The real benefits for me are the smooth transitions that are almost always perfectly in time with what I’d expect, a single source to find good apps, built-in integration with the services I use, and continued support from MS and developers. That being said, I do miss copy and paste, to hell with people who say they don’t have a need for it. I miss full Exchange support. But, I think that the IE browser is far superior to anything Opera ever gave me on WM.
    Just my 2 cents…

  7. Thanks for the quick response! True – my Tilt 2 (when I am running 4+ simultaneous apps) can lag a bit, and it crashes about twice a week. However, at the moment, there is nothing that I have yet seen on an android, iOS, or WP7 that I can’t do on WM 6.5. So I guess as long as that keeps up, I save the cost of upgrading. :) As a software developer, I was not afraid to tweak the registry, write Mortscripts and fine tune the phone to my liking. (I wish I could do the same to my wife ;) ) I am drooling over some of the new hardware out there (phone hardware. Sheesh. Get your mind out of the gutter.), but I do not want to give up what to me is currently the perfect phone (as far as applications go). I suppose I should wait another year or so for the current OS/applications to mature and then check again.

  8. @Joe Green: I will say this as a developer. I thought I like flashing roms and all that came with WM6.x, but it really sucks. Yeah, my Fuze was working great (as could be) and my wife had one two. Captain’s Special, NRG… Seems like a new one each week. Step back for a moment now. Wouldn’t you just like to enjoy your phone? There are things that are missed, but damn there’s a lot not.

    As for this article, I’m with freeway on this. It was know that there wouldn’t be alternative browsers until MS gave the go ahead. Sounds like these two let arrogance get the best of them. I personally would have rather seen “We tried, it’s there, let’s talk about it MS”.

  9. I wanted to add something here, as I run the developer platform team for Windows Phone. There was a tester error while reviewing “Surfy” where the app’s functionality was misinterpreted as a different test case. As a result, the app was incorrectly failed. To be clear, alternate web browsers are openly encouraged in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Mistakes happen from time to time, and we have already followed up with the developer to correct this. Surf Cube and Metro Browser are just 2 browsers already on the platform.

    As a matter of course, however, we would like to point out that test case 2.1 doesn’t refer to disallowing alternative browsers or rejection due to app primary functionality being a browser experience.

    2.1 Your application must be fully functional when acquired from the Windows Phone Marketplace (except for additional data as permitted below), and may not require the user to pay, within the application experience and outside of Windows Phone Marketplace, to activate, unlock, or extend usage of the application. However, applications that do not appear in the Games Hub or are not commonly or elsewhere classified as a game may enable access to additional content for which payment is made outside of Windows Phone Marketplace if you have a pre-existing billing relationship with the user or you require the user to establish a new billing relationship via a web browser.

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