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Microsoft to Windows Phone app developers: Keep it classy

May 02, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • Screen grab from the Windows Phone marketplace
Screen grab from the Windows Phone marketplace (Microsoft )

So what's the difference between provocative and pornographic? Nothing, really, according to Microsoft guidelines for app developers for its Windows Phone platform.

As the Windows Phone app ecosystem now gains a bit of momentum, Todd Brix, senior director of Windows Phone Marketplace, outlined in a recent post on the developer blog some new policies to be enforced.

"Our content policies are clearly spelled out: We don’t allow apps containing 'sexually suggestive or provocative' images or content," he wrote. "What we do permit is the kind of content you occasionally see on prime-time TV or the pages of a magazine’s swimsuit issue."

That actually sounds a bit provocative. Some might quibble that kind of content's borderline pornographic. (Have they seen what's on prime-time these days?)

Of course, this isn't new to the world of apps. Apple has pulled or rejected numerous apps on the grounds of taste and modesty.

"Admittedly, it’s tricky catering to such a wide range of people and markets," Brix wrote. "But we take this responsibility seriously and evaluate and discuss questionable cases."

Although the blog post might leave some questions about what passes muster, the policy does not: No nudity or images that depict the range of sexual activity (solo or otherwise), sexualized body parts, fetishes, depictions of prostitution or pornography and no depiction of "involuntary or physically-resisted sexual interactions with violent or illicit overtones" and sexual assault on adults or children.

Essentially, there's a prohibition on anything a "reasonable person" might consider even "borderline adult content." In other words, keep it classy.

It's not just about what's inside, but also how the apps are dressed up. "Specifically, we will be paying more attention to the icons, titles, and content of these apps and expect them to be more subtle and modest in the imagery and terms used."

Keeping it clean was a theme for a few other important issues in Brix's post. He included admonitions about trademark infringement, differentiating in bulk publishing and the use of keywords.

Ultimately, the post says if you use a trademark, make sure it's yours to use. And for those into excess, sorry. You've got to pick one category for your submission and describe it in five keywords or less. 

That keyword limitation applies to current and future apps. "Any app that exceeds this number will have all its keywords deleted."

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