Microsoft To Close App Store For Elderly Windows Mobile

Microsoft is to close the app store for the aging Windows Mobile operating system within the next two months

Microsoft has confirmed that it will close the app store for its elderly mobile operating system,  Windows Mobile 6.x.

“Beginning May 9, 2012, the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace service will no longer be available,” read a note posted on the Microsoft Answers Website.

“Starting on this date, you will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications directly onto your Windows Mobile 6.x phone” through the Marketplace.

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However, applications and games downloaded before that date will continue to work on devices.

“Windows Mobile applications and games that are compatible with Windows Mobile 6.x may still be available directly from their developers or via third-party marketplaces,” added the posting. The shutdown will not affect the Windows Phone Marketplace, which offers applications and games for Microsoft’s newer Windows Phone.

News of the shutdown quickly found its way onto tech Websites such as TechCrunch.

Microsoft launched Windows Mobile 6.5 in October 2009 with diminished expectations. During Microsoft’s Venture Capital Summit the previous month, CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly suggested the company had “screwed up” its smartphone franchise, whose market share had been steadily eroding in the face of fierce competition from the likes of Google Android. Windows Mobile 6.5 was supposed to act as a sort of stopgap measure until Microsoft could launch a new and improved smartphone operating system, which turned out to be Windows Phone 7.

Mobile Push

Windows Mobile 6.5 nonetheless failed to stop that erosion. The same business customers who traditionally gravitated to Microsoft’s mobile products began to embrace the Apple iPhone and Google Android devices in greater numbers.

But Microsoft’s current Windows Phone push, despite some high-profile devices from Nokia and other manufacturing partners, has so far failed to translate into significant gains in US smartphone market share. According to research firm comScore, Microsoft’s share of total US smartphone subscribers declined from 5.4 percent in October 2011 to 4.4 percent in January 2012.

That dip might be partially due to Windows Mobile, as users abandon it in favour of either Windows Phone or a rival smartphone operating system. In that case, the loss of Windows Marketplace for Mobile could accelerate the Windows Mobile bleed-off, which might translate into further losses for Microsoft’s overall smartphone market share. That being said, the faster Microsoft clears the old version away, the faster it can concentrate its whole effort on making Windows Phone a success.