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EXPLANATION: Microsoft clarifies remote Application wipe on Marketplace for Mobile
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 18.09.09 - 20:02:25 CET under 02 - Windows Mobile News - Viewed 7967x
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Last week, during a TechEd New Zealand 2009 session, Microsoft unveiled more details on Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which is expected to be launched next month - together with the availability of Windows Mobile 6.5. During the session titled "Distributing and Monetizing Applications through Windows Marketplace Mobile," Loke Uei Tan, Senior Product Manager for Windows Mobile unveiled that "If an application is approved but later removed from the marketplace it will then be automatically removed from all mobile devices". This single sentence cause a lot of irritation because it reminds very much on the Amazon fiasco from this summer, where the company remotely removed eBooks from customers Kindle eBook readers.

Ars Technica now received a clarification from Microsoft where this process is further detailed:

"In the vast majority of instances where an application is removed from Windows Marketplace for Mobile, users of this application will continue to be able to use these applications on their phones," a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. "In the rare event an application from Marketplace exhibits harmful behavior or has unforeseen effects, Marketplace has the capability to remotely uninstall these applications. While we hope to avoid this scenario, we will make refunds available in such cases."

Furthermore the spokesperson told Ars Technica "that this rule doesn't seem to differ significantly from what many other mobile marketplaces, including the Apple App store and Google's Android Market, have implemented".

This story is definitely double edged. While I appreciate that Microsoft takes care that no harmful applications are distributed through Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and even warn customers that harmful software was distributed, the fact, that a company can remotely access a device is frightening. It's less that Microsoft (or Apple or Google) might remove the one or the other harmful application, it's the question how secure this mechanism is. If criminals can get access to thousands of credit card details, what makes companies sure that criminals might not hack their systems to remotely wipe devices "just for fun"? In this case, I would definitely prefer a warning message which tells me that this and that application is harmful and it's urgently advised to remove the application.

Cheers ~ Arne


 
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