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Microsoft details app store plans

The software maker says developers who want to sell via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile will pay $99 a year and get to keep 70 percent of the proceeds.

Microsoft on Wednesday is offering up more details on its would-be rival to the iPhone's app store.

The software maker said it will charge developers $99 a year, plus $99 for each application they submit to get an app into the Windows Marketplace store. Through the end of this year, though, developers who register will be able to submit five applications at no additional charge.

The software maker defended the charge: "Microsoft will run a rigorous certification process to ensure that the end user's experience is optimal, and that the device and network resources aren't used in a malicious way," a Microsoft representative said in a statement. "This process has a significant cost and Microsoft believes $99 is an acceptable cost of doing business for (software developers) looking to get in front of millions of customers."

The software maker pledged that it will also offer developers "complete transparency throughout the application submission process" as well as direct feedback. Apple has been criticized for being slow to respond to developer questions while an application is in the approval process, as well as providing developers with little information as to why certain applications were rejected.

Developers who choose to charge for their programs will keep 70 percent of the proceeds. (Free titles will also be allowed). By comparison, Apple also gives developers 70 percent of app sales through its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Research In Motion has pledged to give developers an 80 percent cut in their forthcoming store.

Microsoft announced plans for the mobile application store at last month's Mobile World Congress. The store is set to debut with the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5 in the fourth quarter of this year.

The software maker plans to let developers start registering in the spring and begin submitting applications this summer.

Microsoft also said it was launching a sales and marketing program to help developers, though it didn't say how large that program will be.