Microsoft requires Windows Phone 7.5 for all Marketplace app downloads

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced it will soon require all consumers wishing to install applications from its Windows Phone Marketplace to first upgrade their smartphones to run the latest version of the Windows Phone operating system.

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Microsoft will make Windows Phone 7.5 mandatory for virtually all Windows Phone Marketplace interactions.

Beginning within the next few weeks, Microsoft will make Windows Phone 7.5 mandatory for virtually all Windows Phone Marketplace interactions, including app purchases and downloads, software updates and review submissions. Users running previous versions of Windows Phone can still browse the storefront after the change takes effects, but attempts to download or update an app will result in an error message.

"Why are we doing this? Marketplace is growing fast," writes Microsoft Director of Program Management Mazhar Mohammed on the Windows Phone Blog. "It now has over 80,000 apps overall and is available in 54 (soon to be 63) countries around the world. Requiring Windows Phone 7.5 is part of a larger effort aimed at improving Marketplace performance and security, and paving the way for even faster growth and more new features."

Microsoft also will disable the option to shop for Windows Phone apps from its Zune multimedia software for PCs. According to Mohammed, most consumers purchase Windows Phone apps directly on their smartphones, favoring the online version of Windows Phone Marketplace for desktop shopping experiences.

"The Zune software is still important for things like installing Windows Phone software updates and making backup copies of photos and videos stored on your handset," Mohammed notes, adding the Zune HD app store also will remain open.

Windows Phone devices are expected to generate just 2 percent of all app installs in 2012 according to an ABI Research forecast issued earlier this month. ABI anticipates consumers will download close to 36 billion apps this year, with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android combining to drive 83 percent of all downloads.

For more:
- read this Windows Phone Blog entry

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