The Windows Live Marketplace is currently active for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones.  (Source: Engadget)
New marketplace attempts to increase WinMo's competitiveness with the iPhone

While the iPhone certainly has driven the smartphone craze to new heights, currently it arguably retains only one crucial advantage over its rivals.  That advantage is its App Store.  While rivals such as Palm and Google have launched their own markets, they lack the number of applications and developers that are on the iPhone.

Now Microsoft is looking to become the latest to try to challenge Apple's App Store dominance.  Microsoft just rolled out Windows Live Marketplace, a new app store which is available on phones running on its Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system.  The store appears to have launched a day early on some phones, but few are complaining.

The marketplace reportedly has 40 currently available applications (iTunes App Store currently has around 75,000).  You can access the store using your current Windows Live ID and pay for apps via credit card.

Some of the currently available applications include Street Fighter II, Facebook, a Netflix manager, Pac-Man, Mastersoft Money V6, and a WorldTime clock application.

More applications are likely on the way for tomorrow's official launch.  EA reportedly has signed a contract with Microsoft to provide some games for the store, including a mobile version of Sim City.

The Windows Live Marketplace was first noted on the new AT&T Pure, which users began picking up this weekend.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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