One of the more notable features of the upcoming version of Windows Phone 7 operating system was just detailed in a recent post on the Windows Phone Developer blog. Called “private beta distribution,” this new feature lets developers or IT admins distribute smartphone applications in private, test environments outside of public reach.
For smartphone app reviewers, this feature will be a blessing (to say the least!). If you’ve ever participated in the beta testing of a new mobile application, you know that there are complicated procedures for loading pre-launch apps onto your device, no matter what model phone or OS your device is. Most of the time, you have to physically connect the device to your PC then manually copy the file over to your phone in some way in order to test the new app.
With Windows Phone 7, those time-consuming procedures will be no more. Beta testers will be able to distribute applications to users, either globally or based on geographic area. The testers will then receive an email containing a “deep link” to the app hosted privately within the Windows Phone Marketplace. Following through on the link will allow testers to download and install the app over-the-air, just as with any other publicly available application.
In addition to private beta testing, these new procedures will help in-house IT staff distribute their own applications to end users without having to pre-load phones in advance with the apps their users may need.
This new functionality will arrive to the Marketplace this fall.