Microsoft on the last day of MIX10 has confirmed that it can remotely disable Windows Phone 7 apps sold through the Windows Phone Marketplace. As all apps have to be given a license to run in the OS, the company can prevent them from running by revoking the license. The method would likely only be used in an emergency in case of a virus or other rogue behavior, the company's Istvan Cseri said in a presentation.
The approach is a step backwards from Windows Mobile but would mirror that taken by Apple. The iPhone requires certificate signing for apps and makes developers sign an agreement that lets Apple pull iPhone apps from customers' phones. Apple isn't known to have ever removed an app directly.
Microsoft is known to be taking a much more direct role overseeing app approvals and has vowed that it would be more open and consistent than Apple, but it has already said it would ban apps that use the "back" button on a WP7 phone for anything other than closing a dialog box. More definite rules should be available in May.