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
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