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Microsoft Shuttering Windows Mobile Marketplace in May

Windows Mobile Marketplace, the online app store for Microsoft's aging Windows Mobile smartphone OS, will be shut down in two months.

"Beginning May 9, 2012, the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace service will no longer be available. Starting on this date, Windows Mobile 6.x users will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications directly on their Windows Mobile 6.x phones using the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace application and service," Microsoft said in an e-mail dated March 8 to current Windows Mobile users.

Windows Mobile is the predecessor of Microsoft's current flagship smartphone platform, Windows Phone, which uses the Windows Phone Marketplace to download apps. Microsoft began releasing the details of its plan to phase out Windows Mobile last June. Support for Windows Mobile 6.x users will end on Jan. 8, 2013, Microsoft confirmed at the time. Additionally, hardware partners will stop distributing Windows Mobile 6.x devices on Oct. 31, 2013, and Windows Embedded Handheld devices running Windows Mobile 6.x on April 30, 2017.

On July 15, 2011, Microsoft closed the Windows Mobile Marketplace Web site as part of its Windows Mobile phase-out plans. Since then, Windows Mobile Marketplace has been available only via Windows Mobile devices. After May 9, the service will be completely inaccessible.

"Microsoft recommends you review the applications or games installed on your Windows Mobile 6.x phone and install any available updates in advance of the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace service shut-down on May 9, 2012," the letter said.

While apps that have already been downloaded will continue to work after May 9, users will not have access to updates after that. However, Microsoft said third-party developers and marketplaces may still continue to provide Windows Mobile 6.x apps.

Microsoft cautioned that doing either a hard reset or a wipe of a Windows Mobile device would erase all data from the phone, including apps downloaded from the Windows Mobile Marketplace.

A Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail that the shuttering of Windows Mobile Marketplace is representative of Microsoft's "intent to begin transitioning engineering and support resources from older Windows Mobile 6.x based services to Windows Phone. This is a natural evolution as Microsoft invests in newer and better experiences for Windows Phone customers."

UPDATE: When asked if Windows Mobile devices can be upgraded to Windows Phone, the spokesperson answered in the negative:

"Windows Mobile 6.x devices are not updatable to the Windows Phone 7 OS...Windows Mobile 6.x devices do not meet Windows Phone hardware requirements designed to ensure a consistent user and developer experience. Windows Mobile 6.x customers who are interested in updating to Windows Phone will need to purchase a new Windows Phone handset, which are available at a variety of price points from mobile operators in Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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