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600 Windows Mobile Apps Will Take On the iPhone App Store

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

They’d better be very, very good apps to take on Apple’s hordes

Microsoft will confront the iPhone’s App Store with its own marketplace for Windows Mobile, holding 600 apps, this autumn, according to reports.

The Windows Marketplace for Mobile, announced earlier this year, already has a web-site place holder, and a viral campaign is persuading users to submit apps for the launch in autumn. Now
Audrey Zolghadr, Windows Mobile product manager for Microsoft France, has been more specific, promising 600 applications will be ready on day one:

“For the launch of Marketplace, 600 applications will be certified and available,” she told Mobifrance (link to Google translation). “It will be possible to retrieve the software from the search engine.”

Each user will only see software compatible with their screen resolution, and level of touch-screen support, and will be able to to test the software under a 24-hour money back guarantee.

“The customer may choose to pay by credit card will be billed directly or by deduction from the operator,” said Zolghadr. “Microsoft wants to make the smartphone more fun. We offer new games for free. We signed a partnership with EA Games and manufacturers can integrate such mobile Sim City and other surprises.”

Six hundred apps is a small number when set against the iPhone’s 50,000, or even Android’s 5000 and Nokia Ovi’s 1000 but observers say the Microsoft marketplace is a step in the right direction, and point out that the figures are highly approximate:

“At the end of the day, it’s all about signal-to-noise ratio,” said blogger Chris Ziegler on Engadget Mobile. “If Microsoft can deliver 600 apps and half of those are terrific, they’re on the right track – though at this point, we’re thinking the next battle in Smartphone Platform Wars doesn’t really kick off until WinMo 7 swings by anyway.”

In March, Microsoft laid out details about how developers can build and sell applications for Windows phones through Windows Marketplace for Mobile, the company’s application marketplace available with the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system.

Sun has claimed that its App Store for Java, which will serve both desktops and mobile devices will be much larger than Apple’s App Store. Nokia launched its Ovi store in May.

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Darryl K. Taft contributed to this article.