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Application Certification Requirements

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To ensure the quality and usability of applications distributed through Windows Marketplace, every application must pass through a validation process after submission and before it is made available for download. The following are the core tenets of this validation process:

  • Applications must be reliable. This is reflected by the implementation of published best practices for creating reliable
  • Applications must use resources efficiently. They must execute efficiently on the phone and not have a negative impact on performance.
  • Applications must not interfere with the functionality of the phone. They must not modify settings, or they must prompt the user before changing any user preferences or the behavior of other applications.
  • Applications are free from viruses and malicious software. They must be safe for users to install and run.

In addition, applications must meet several other requirements. These include complying with the Microsoft policies for acceptable content and ensuring that localized metadata and content are accurately represented for the application’s supported geographic regions. The full set of requirements falls into four main categories: application code restrictions; run-time behavior, performance and metrics; user opt-in and privacy; and media and visual content. The following sections provide an overview of the requirements within each of these categories.

For full documentation of all the requirements, download Windows Phone 7 Application Certification Requirements from the Microsoft Download Center (

Application Code Restrictions

This section describes the requirements for your Windows Phone 7 applications in terms of the code you write, the way the application works, and the way that you compile it.

Your application must run on any Windows Phone 7 device, regardless of model, screen size, keyboard hardware, or manufacturer. The application must use only the Windows Phone Application Platform documented APIs, and it must not use PInvoke or COM interoperability. If you use controls from the System.Windows. Controls namespace, you must not call any APIs in the Microsoft. Xna.Framework.Game or Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Graphics assemblies.

The application runs in a sandbox on the device. Application code must be type-safe when compiled to Microsoft intermediate language (MSIL) code. You cannot use unsafe code or security critical code. You also cannot redistribute the Windows Phone assemblies; however, you can redistribute the Panorama, Pivot, and Map control assemblies if these are used in your application.

The application must also handle all exceptions raised by the .NET Framework, must not terminate unexpectedly or become unresponsive to user input, and it must display user-friendly error messages. A visual progress indicator must be displayed when executing time-consuming activities, such as downloading data over network connections, and you must provide an option to cancel this type of activity.

When you compile your application for distribution, you must do so using the Release or Retail configuration. It must not be compiled using the debug configuration, and it must not contain debugging symbols or output. However, you can submit an application with obfuscated code if you want.

Finally, the application must not use reflection to discover and invoke types that require security permissions. The repackaging process that takes place before distribution does not detect invoking types in this way, so the generated manifest will not request the required permissions. This will cause the application to fail at run time.

Run-time Behavior, Performance, and Metrics

To maintain a consistent user experience, the Back button must only be used for backward navigation in the application. Pressing the Back button must return the application to the previous page, or—if the user is already on the initial page—must close the application. If the current page displays a context menu or a dialog box, pressing the Back button must close the menu or dialog box and cancel the backward navigation to the previous page. The only exceptions to this are in games, where the Back button may display a context menu or dialog box, navigate to the previous menu screen, or close the menu.

The certification requirements for Windows Phone 7 applications specify both the startup performance of applications and some limitations on the use of resources. For example, the application must render the main user interface (UI) startup screen (not the splash screen) within five seconds on a typical physical device, and it must be responsive to user input within twenty seconds. The application must also complete execution in response to both the Activated and Deactivated events within ten seconds or it will be terminated by the operating system.

In addition, the application must not use more than 90 MB of RAM memory on the device unless it first queries the properties of the DeviceExtendedProperties class, and this class reports that more than 256 MB of memory is installed. The application must be able to run whether or not this extended memory is available, and it should vary its behavior only at run time to take advantage of additional memory, if required.

Your application should, as far as is appropriate, minimize its use of hardware resources, services, and device capabilities to preserve battery power. For example, it should use the location service and the push notification service only when required (which also minimizes the load on these Microsoft services).

An application in the foreground can continue to run when the phone screen is locked by setting the  PhoneApplicationService. ApplicationIdleDetectionMode property (you must prompt the user to allow this). When an application is running under a locked screen, it must minimize power usage as much as possible.

User Opt-in and Privacy

Your application must maintain user privacy. In particular, it must protect data provided by the user and must not pass any user-identifiable or personal information to another service or application unless you provide full details of how the information will be used and the user agrees to this (the opt-in approach).

If the application includes person-to-person communication such as chat features, and these features can be set up from the device, you must take steps to ascertain that the user is at least 13 years old before enabling this feature.

You must also obtain the user’s consent before your application uses the location service to identify the user’s location or if it uses the Microsoft Push Notification Service (MPNS) to send notifications to the user’s phone. For example, the application must ask the user for explicit permission to receive a toast notification before it first calls the BindtoShellToast method for the first time.

For information about the different types of notifications, see “Types of Push Notifications for Windows Phone” on MSDN (

If your application relies on the location feature and passes the location information to another application or service (such as a social community site), you must periodically remind users by displaying a message or including a visual indication on screen that location data is being sent to another service.

Users must also be able to turn off the location feature and push notifications within the application, and the application must either continue to work or present the user with a suitable message if it cannot work with the feature turned off. It must not simply fail when the feature is disabled.

An application in the foreground can continue to run when the phone screen is locked by setting the ApplicationIdleDetection Mode property. If you design your application with this capability, you must first obtain consent from the user to run in this mode and provide them with an option to disable it.

Your application must also ask users for permission before performing large downloads. Typically, this means asking for permission for data downloads greater than 50 MB that the application requires or for the use of services or communication protocols that may incur excessive communication costs.

Application Media and Visual Content

The visual appearance and content of an application must conform to a series of requirements. For example, in terms of styling, the UI must be readable and usable if the user changes the color scheme from the default white on black.

Windows Phone 7 applications and Windows Marketplace initially support localization into only English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. However, it is likely that other languages will be added over time. All Windows Marketplace materials and application content must be correctly localized into the chosen language. For example, an application that is submitted in French must have a product description, UI text, screen shots, and icons in French. You can submit an application for multiple languages as a single package. If you submit separate language versions, each is validated and certified separately.

For information about the localization features in Windows Phone 7, see “Globalization and Localization Overview for Windows Phone” on MSDN (

Your applications must also abide by a series of restrictions on the content and links to content located elsewhere. These restrictions include the appropriate use of licensed content and trademarks; they also include limitations based on preventing illegal content such as libel and slander, threatening behavior, violence, pornography, and discrimination. There are very strict limits that prevent an application from containing content related to hate speech and defamation; the use or promotion of alcohol, tobacco, weapons, and drugs; certain adult-related content; and excessive profanity.

Finally, there are a series of restrictions that apply specifically to music-related or photo-related applications, and to advertising. These specify how users must be able to launch your application, and the types of advertising content that is acceptable. Although your applications can contain most types of advertising, they cannot, for example, promote other phone service plans or phone application marketplaces.

However, your application can play music in the background, even when its primary function is not related to music or video experiences.

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  1. This article might be useful if I could actually read it. Grey text on slightly darker grey background?! I did notice the irony in the first link below the article being “User Interface Design and Style Guidelines”!

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