When Microsoft first announced officially its plans for Windows Marketplace for Mobile, company officials said they'd eventually open the phone app store to users with phones running Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1.
On November 16, the company made good on that commitment, making the announcement on the Windows Phone Team Blog.
Until today, the Windows Marketplace for Mobile site was usuable by Windows Mobile 6.5 phone customers only. By adding 6.0 and 6.1 phone users to the pool of customers who can buy and download apps from the site, Microsoft can now claim that the Marketplace is accessible by 30 million devices. (That's one claim you can count on the Softies playing up, in the hopes of attracting more developers to write apps for the platform.)
Microsoft needs more customer and developer love for the Windows Mobile platform, and that love can come none to soon. Last week, Gartner Group analysts issued a report that found Microsoft has lost a third of its worldwide marketshare for Windows Mobile in the past year.
When Microsoft opened the Windows Marketplace for Mobile site in October this year, it offered 246 applications on it.
Last week, Microsoft introduced a synchronization feature that allows users to download apps for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones from the Marketplace onto their PCs, not just directly onto their phones.
Microsoft is holding its invitation-only Mobius conference this week in Redmond. Only some of what is shown at that annual event is under non-disclosure. Will the Softies share info with the invited mobile bloggers and analysts about Windows Mobile 7.0 -- or anything else that will give folks hope for the future of the platform? Guess we'll find out in the coming days....
In the interim, I've taken a pass (again) on buying a Windows Mobile phone. Verizon still doesn't have any models I like (a good QWERTY keyboard is non-negotiable for me, as is a simple user interface that I don't need a manual to decipher). And Verizon folks at my local store are still advising users against going with Windows Mobile unless they absolutely must use that operating system, claiming a high rate of returns. Maybe there really are some more compelling Windows Mobile devices in the pipeline, but if there are, no one I've spoken with seems to know about them or be able to talk about them (publicly or privately)....