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Microsoft Cracks Down on Racy Apps in Windows Phone Store

Microsoft will contact developers whose apps icons and tiles contain racy imagery

Microsoft is working with developers to clean up apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace that contain racy or sexual content. The company said in a blog post it would contact developers whose apps icons and tiles contain racy imagery and that it would enforce its sexual content guidelines more stringently.

In a similar fashion to Apple’s no-nonsense approach to sexual content in the App Store, Microsoft Windows Phone Marketplace guidelines already ban content that “a reasonable person would consider to be adult or borderline adult content.” But Todd Brix, Microsoft's senior director for Windows Marketplace, said, “a more stringent interpretation and enforcement of our existing content policy” will now be in place.

It’s easy to see what Microsoft is talking about. A simple search for the word sex in the Windows Phone Marketplace returns just under 100 results, and the icons and artwork used in some of these apps could be seen as overly revealing of what you expect to find inside. Because Microsoft wants mass adoption of Windows Phones, it will have to offer reassurances to parents that it’s safe for their kids to play with a Windows Phone without being exposed to racy content.

“This is about presenting the right content to the right customer and ensuring that apps meet our standards. We will also monitor customer reaction to apps and reserve the right to remove ones that our customers find offensive,” Brix explained. He said only “a handful” of developers will be affected by the changes, and they will have to address issues relating to the icons and titles of their apps, or they will be removed from the store.

Microsoft’s terms seem to be lenient enough though, as Brix said, “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,” so the company is not actually banning sex-related apps. The suggestion for developers is to show male or female models in silhouette, or drawings, rather than provocative imagery.

The racy app purge from Microsoft is a part of wider changes the company is implementing for the Windows Phone Marketplace, which hosts some 70,000 apps (still a fraction of Apple’s 500,000 and Google’s 450,000). Other new measures include cleaning up keywords and categories, thus making searching for apps more effective.

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