Microsoft Mobile Marketplace Now Available for Windows Mobile 6.0, 6.1

Microsoft extends its Windows Marketplace for Mobile to users of Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1, older versions of the smartphone operating system. Microsoft has also added new features to Marketplace for Mobile. The mobile-applications store originally launched on Oct. 6 along with Windows Mobile 6.5, a more robust version of the OS that is still considered by many to be a stopgap measure until Microsoft can roll out Windows Mobile 7 in 2010.

When Microsoft first released Windows Marketplace for Mobile, it only ran on the newest version of the company's smartphone operating system, Windows Mobile 6.5. On Nov. 16, Microsoft announced that older versions, specifically Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1, will now be able to access its mobile-applications bazaar.

Microsoft released both Windows Mobile 6.5 and Marketplace for Mobile on Oct. 6. The initiatives were part of the company's attempts to start afresh in the smartphone operating system space, where it has seen its market share steadily decline in the face of competition from Apple, Research In Motion and other companies.

"Initially, Marketplace was available for the new Windows phones with Mobile 6.5. Today, almost all people with phones running Windows Mobile 6.0 and above with a supporting data plan can now access Marketplace," Eric Nelson, a member of Microsoft's Developer Evangelist team, wrote in a Nov. 16 post on The Windows Blog. "Roughly 90 percent of the apps in our catalogue already support Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1 devices."

Nelson said the total number of applications available for Marketplace stood at 800, more than three times the number available at the platform's launch in October. About 1,000 ISVs are currently registered to provide mobile applications.

For more on Windows Mobile 6.5's features, click here.

In addition to making Marketplace for Mobile available to users of older versions of Mobile, Microsoft also upgraded the store with better anti-piracy protection, PC-based shopping and account management. Using the Windows Marketplace for Mobile site, users can now purchase applications and have them sent wirelessly to their smartphones.

"We've been gathering input on what we can do to improve the developer experience and have made some subtle but important enhancements to the developer portal to enable easier uploading of images, greater insight into account status and several other refinements based on feedback from developers," Todd Brix, senior director for Mobile Platform Services Product Management, wrote on the Windows Mobile blog on Nov. 11.

During the summer, Microsoft executives suggested that their goal was to have 600 mobile applications available for the Oct. 6 release. As part of its strategy for differentiating its own offering from other companies' mobile-application stores, Microsoft encouraged developers to charge more for their Windows Mobile applications than the 99 cents common on Apple's App Store.

"We would definitely want to promote [the idea] that you make more money selling applications than selling your application in a dollar store," Loke Uei, senior technical product manager for Microsoft's Mobile Developer Experience Team, told mobile application developers in Redmond, Wash., on Aug. 19. "But 99 cents, come on, I think your app is worth more than that."

Although Windows Mobile 6.5 boasts improved touch-screen functionality, as well as other tweaks designed to make it more current than other Microsoft mobile offerings, it is widely considered something of a stopgap measure until Microsoft can release Windows Mobile 7 in 2010.