At TechEd, everyone who came to the session on Windows Phone Marketplace learned about some details about some changes coming to the marketplace with the release of Mango. Well, developers rejoice, for some great changes are coming that will make program testing and distribution much easier.
The first change coming is that you will be able to have beta testers before you decide to publish your program to the marketplace. After setting up your program in marketplace as a beta, you then give out a link to all of your beta testers. Your testers can then use that link to download the "beta" version of your program to their phones without having to have the testers' phones developer-unlocked. All of your testers will need to have a windows live id to download your beta (but you need that for marketplace anyway). However, the beta version of your program is only good for 90 days, but you can put out a new beta version of your program which has that 90 day limit "reset". Plus, there is still nothing like a crash test tool that can collect system information about your program (aside from the debugger).
The next change is that you will be able to have privatized programs. With this, your program is hidden from any marketplace searching and only people who have the link to your program will be able to get it. However, if the link to your program gets leaked, there's not much that can be done about limiting the distribution of your program.
The third change coming is a welcome one for students. If you sign on to Dreamspark, you will no longer have to verify with Geotrust (Dreamspark will trust that you're a student) before you can developer-unlock your phone and start publishing programs to the marketplace. Before this change, you first had to submit a program to the marketplace, wait for Geotrust to verify you, and then be able to developer-unlock your phone and start publishing programs. With the advent of Mango (the next Windows Phone release), you will no longer have to wait. I hope this will be (somewhat of) an incentive to work on getting together a team to make a program for the Imagine Cup competition next year.
The last change is with publishing games. With Mango, there is now going to be a ratings system (standard ESRB) built-in to Marketplace. You will also be able to publish mature games to the marketplace now, which means we will finally be able to see mobile Halo make it into the marketplace soon for the enjoyment of many gamers out there.
With the advent of Mango and all of its wonderful changes, additions, and updates, I know that these changes to the marketplace will help to make the Apphub Marketplace grow and become better to use for everyone. I certainly welcome these changes and hope other developers and users out there will welcome these changes as well.
Questions? Comments? I would certainly like you hear your view on this. Feel free to follow me on twitter as well (username is "rctechgeek", link is in the "About Me" section).