Windows Mobile fans have had a tough time of late. They’ve had to watch their beloved mobile phone OS of choice lose market share to rivals such as Apple, BlackBerry and Android, whilst simultaneously having to endure numerous teething issues that have pushed Microsoft’s portable format to the back of the pack in terms of innovation.
While the recently launched Windows Mobile 6.5 isn’t going to change this sorry situation overnight, it does appear to be a step in the right direction. One of its biggest advancements is unquestionably the introduction of the Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
Essentially Microsoft’s version of the App Store/Android Market/Ovi Store concept (delete as applicable), it operates in very much the same way as its rivals, but to ensure there’s as little ambiguity as possible we’ve compiled this handy guide to make your WinMo shopping experience as painless as it can be.
If you’ve just upgraded to WinMo 6.5 then you may need to download the actual Windows Marketplace app. Tap the Windows Marketplace icon in the phone’s main “Windows” menu to commence installation.
After installation - which takes a couple of minutes - you’ll be able to browse the store itself. There are currently just under 300 apps available at present but it’s early days for the service.
As you can see, the store is divided into several different sections.
Notable apps are highlighted at the top of the screen under the search bar, and it’s possible to peruse items by popularity or how new they are.
You can also browse by category. The final option at the bottom allows you to see what apps you currently have installed, but we’ll get to that later.
After a fit of excruciatingly dull conformity, we’ve decided to download the ubiquitous Facebook app. Once you’ve made a selection you’re presented with a description of the app, a link to user reviews and even a selection of screenshots.
With our minds made up, it’s time to press the Install button. After a brief pause we’re taken to the Windows Live ID sign-in screen, which is potentially the trickiest part of this entire procedure.
Because Windows Live now covers so many different services - including Hotmail and Xbox Live - remembering what your actual sign-in details are can be difficult. Thankfully, if you’ve used any of Microsoft’s services lately then chances are you already possess a sign-in and won’t need to register again.
The Facebook app costs nothing so no charge is made to our credit card, but if you intend to download a paid-for app you’ll need to ensure you have a card linked to your Windows Live ID. If you’re an Xbox Live gamer there’s a good chance this will already be the case, as a credit or debit card is required to purchase Microsoft Points.
Installation runs in the background, as denoted by the progress bar at the bottom of the screen. You can continue to browse the store and even download more apps during this procedure.
If you wish to keep track of what apps you are currently downloading and what programs are presently sitting in your phone’s memory, then tap the “My Applications” option from the main menu of the Windows Marketplace. Here you can manage your downloads, rate your purchased apps and even delete them altogether.
So there you have it - shopping on Windows Marketplace for Mobile is pretty stress-free, to be honest. The big challenge for Microsoft is to ensure it becomes a success. With Apple recently revealing that the App Store has 100,000 items for download, there’s a long way to go before WinMo can be seen as a genuine contender.