Microsoft is putting together a Web-based version of its application store for Windows Phone 7 smartphones, in the fashion of leading app stores from Apple and Google. The Web-based Windows Phone 7 Marketplace will arrive this autumn, in time for the release of Mango, Microsoft's latest update of its smartphone operating system.
The Web Windows Phone 7 Marketplace will be very similar to Google's Android and Apple's offerings. You can browse the full app catalog, view screenshots of the apps, and check out details and reviews. Microsoft is implementing a nice discovery feature, which allows you to share your favorite apps via a link in e-mails or social networking recommendations on Facebook and Twitter.
Billing-wise, the upcoming Web Marketplace uses the same transaction method as on smartphones, via a credit card linked to your existing Windows Live ID. Once you purchase an app, it will be downloaded over-the-air automatically to your phone (you have the option to install later), as seen with Google Android Market online.
A useful feature in the Web Windows Phone 7 Marketplace is purchase history: the store will track your purchases, so when you upgrade your phone, you can reinstall all your purchased apps in one go.
The Web app store is part of Microsoft's push to be relevant again in a smartphone arena dominated by Apple and Google. The company's Windows Phone 7 Mango update promises to bring some 500 news features, among some long-overdue improvements such as third-party multitasking. A bunch of new Windows Phone 7 devices are expected to arrive at the same time as well from Acer, Fujitsu, HTC, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE.