Microsoft Details Mobile Storefront Plans

Microsoft on Wednesday announced how its upcoming online mobile storefront, Windows Marketplace for Mobile, will operate. Microsoft had previously announced the store, along with Windows Mobile 6.5 and the My Phone synchronization service, last month.

"Microsoft's decades-long relationship with developers has led to some of the most exciting innovations the industry has seen," Microsoft senior vice president Andy Lees said. "We'll continue our successful collaboration with developers through Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which will provide a broad reach to customers. With the new Windows Marketplace for Mobile and our great development tools, Windows phones represent an incredible opportunity for developers everywhere."

The terms of the Windows Marketplace for Mobile are almost identical to those that Apple offers through its iPhone-based App Store. Developers will receive 70 percent of the revenue for each application sold through the store, and can set their own prices, per locale. (Applications can also be given away.) For an annual registration fee of $99, developers can submit up to five applications per year. This fee is waived for students.

Developers create Windows Mobile applications using the familiar Visual Studio environment and languages like C# and Visual Basic. Tools such as the Windows Mobile 6 SDK and .NET Compact Framework 3.5 are also required.

Microsoft notes that there are over 20,000 applications already available for Windows Mobile, and that its partners sold over 20 million Windows Mobile devices last year. A minor update, Windows Mobile 6.5, will ship on new devices beginning late this year.

Microsoft isn't alone in trying to compete with Apple's enormously successful iPhone Apps Store. Android maker Google and Blackberry maker RIM have also announced stores of their own, for their respective devices. And Nokia just announced an Ovi store that will service its market-leading devices as well.

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