Last night I had a chat with a friend (… and programmer!) who asked me that question. Perhaps the answer is not no well known, at least here in Italy, so I’ll try to give some information as far as I know!!! 😉
Up to now, only HW constructors (ex. HTC, Samsung, Nokia, LG) can have a private marketplace (and perhaps some telecom operators, not Telecom Italia anyway): in fact when you have a Windows Phone Device of a specific brend, you can download (free of charge) some applications made by that specific brend and not available for devices of other brands (also if you would like to buy them, you can’t download and install them!). For example, Nokia devices, among other applications, have the free Nokia Navigator that is a very interesting app: a similar application in the marketplace is the Garmin Navigon that should cost about 70€, if I remember well.
Probably in the near future, also big firms will be able to ask for their private marketplace. But up to now, also if you want to distribute your application only inside your Company, you have to publish it in the Microsoft Markertplace, even though mainly thought for consumer market.
HOWEVER there are several workaround you can use to reach your goal:
- 1) Make use (once the application is dowloaded, installed and started) of an initial user authentication process (made locally or better using a remote service) to really make your application work. This authentication could be done, if there aren’t any other reasons to preserve it, only the first time the authorized user use the new installed application … then you can save in the Isolated Storage some permanent variable to be checked at each launch time.
- 2) Publish your application in hidden mode, so it is not visible in the public application list of MS Marketplace but it can be downloaded if you know the proper link. That is a way of publishing thought to try “on field” complex applications that need to be tested with some friend users, but it can be usefully used in our context. You can the give the marketplace link to download your application only to the users of your company that neet it.
- 3) Instead to give a visible link of the marketplace location to download your application (that could be copied by someone not authorized), you can provide it throught a link of an Intranet or, anyway of a site where the user needs to be authenticated. This last solution, I think, is the the best one!
P.S. In the MSDN magazine of May 2013 you can find the interesting article “Creating a Windows Phone 8 Company Hub app” by Tony Champion: it is about the unmanaged option for developing enterprise apps that allows devices to install apps directly from an e-mail or from an URI, or using the appropriate WP SDK 8.0 classes for managing and interacting with the company apps that are installed on the machine. There is also a downloadable resource code. It is a further approch other one to use a mobile device management (MDM) solution to directly manage the devices (using Windows Intune or System Center 2012 Configuration Manager).