Microsoft has launched an online showroom called Mobile App Match in an effort to spur development of third-party applications for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.
The site also offers a discussion venue where mobile phone users can suggest ideas for Windows Phone 7 applications and provide feedback on application prototypes.
The site is separate from the online marketplace where Microsoft sells applications for its mobile operating system.
Microsoft debuted the public beta of Windows Phone 7 at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference last month and plans to make the mobile software generally available in about two months. The company’s stated goal is to have smartphones running the operating system hit the market in time for the holiday shopping season. And having lots of third-party applications when the new product ships will go a long way toward giving it a competitive boost in the market.
But Microsoft has a long way to go to catch up with rivals Apple and Google. Apple’s App Store has more than 225,000 applications for its popular iPhone while Google’s Android mobile operating system, which runs on smartphones from Motorola, HTC and other manufacturers, is estimated to have some 65,000 third-party applications.
The new Microsoft Mobile App Match site allows developers to post their Windows Phone 7 application prototypes or videos demonstrating how they would work. Users can comment and vote on the applications, post their own application ideas, and start conversations on Windows Phone 7 topics.
The site also provides Windows Phone news and blog posts, links to developer tools, development tips and Windows Phone 7 commercials.
Microsoft, which has struggled to gain a significant foothold in the mobile computing market, is pulling out all the stops to make Windows Phone 7 a winner. At the partner conference Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner said mobile computing was one of the few key technology areas where Microsoft is not a market-share leader – a situation he vowed to change.
And Microsoft has been beating the drums to get ISVs to develop applications for Windows Phone 7. At Microsoft’s MIX10 developers’ conference in Las Vegas in March the company gave developers an in-depth look at the tools they’ll be using to build Windows Phone 7 applications.