Microsoft Edges Closer To Its Own App Store For Windows Mobile - InformationWeek

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3/10/2009
08:13 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Microsoft Edges Closer To Its Own App Store For Windows Mobile

Microsoft officially announced its own application store for Windows Mobile devices last month during World Mobile Congress, though it wasn't news to most people. It now has a mobile Web site that looks like a placeholder for the new site. There isn't much there, but it shows progress is being made.

Microsoft officially announced its own application store for Windows Mobile devices last month during World Mobile Congress, though it wasn't news to most people. It now has a mobile Web site that looks like a placeholder for the new site. There isn't much there, but it shows progress is being made.I'm hoping the Web site is just a portal to a much richer experience where a device-side client will provide a wider range of features than a Web site can offer, such as software updates, automatic software registration, and even reinstallation all of your apps should you change phones.

Microsoft has enjoyed a big application developer base since the Pocket PC was launched in 2000, but it hasn't been terribly easy for users to get those apps. There are multiple stores, each with their own user ID and password. Some don't let you redownload apps without buying "download insurance," some notify you of updates to your apps and others don't, and it's anyone's guess as to whether a particular app can be downloaded and installed directly on the phone or if you have to download it to your PC first and then dock your device so you can install it. The new app store for Windows Mobile should take care of all of those issues, as well as provide one-stop shopping for all your application needs. There are few details yet as to what applications Microsoft will and won't allow, but I doubt it will be as restrictive as Apple has been. Microsoft has welcomed third-party developers that want to build better apps than what Microsoft includes on its devices, something Apple has blocked. Microsoft isn't just going to gather a bunch of apps for the launch, though. It's encouraging new applications to be developed that will be features when the app store launches. Microsoft is calling it Mobile Incubation Week, and it runs from April 13-17 in Mountain View, Calif. There are similar events planned in Asia and Europe at later dates. To qualify for the event, just send Microsoft an overview of your idea for a new application and why you consider it unique to Windows Mobile. It doesn't matter if you have already developed a Windows Mobile app or not. If the idea is one of the better ideas submitted, you can have a team of up to three people attend the event, which is free. Microsoft will provide technical expertise from its own ranks as well as from a field of experienced WinMo developers who have top-notch apps out there today. There will also be venture capitalists that may be interested in funding your plans. I'm sure Microsoft is hoping this will spur some buzz when the store finally opens, whenever that may be. This event requires the app to run on Windows Mobile 6.1 or 6.5. I'm not sure if that's an indication as to what platforms the store will support or not. Hopefully Microsoft will at least support devices dating back to Windows Mobile 5, which was sold well into 2006. If you've ever had an idea for an app you'd like to bring to fruition for a mobile platform, this event may be just the thing to jump-start it. The deadline to submit an entry is March 20.

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