Although Microsoft had stated that the new Marketplace for Windows Phone 7 Series will be the only source for consumers to purchase and install applications for their Windows Phone 7 Series, with one exception, we were able to find out that it is possible to sideload applications onto Windows Phone 7 Series devices. First, though, the exception that Microsoft mentions is that it is examining possible ways for enterprise customers who may want to deploy custom vertical market apps for their employees without having to go through the Marketplace. Later, when we met to speak with company officials, we learned that the option for sideloading apps will be possible, the caveat being that the feature is reserved for developers who are part of the Windows Phone 7 Series development program–details at developer.windowsphone.com.
Sideloading is a process of loading or installing applications that are not purchased or acquired through Marketplace.
According to Microsoft, registered developers with the program will be given the option to have their handsets “unlocked” so that they can load non-Marketplace apps for testing purposes. Unlocking, in this case, is not the same as “SIM unlock” to allow different SIM cards to be used, but rather to unlock a specific feature in the handset to allow non-Marketplace apps to be installed.