Windows Phone 8 users can access 46 of top 50 apps

The software giant's new mobile operating system will be able to use popular programs like Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Temple Run.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore at Windows Phone 8 launch, Oct. 29, 2012 in San Francisco. CNET
Windows Phone 8 is getting a big app boost, with the platform now featuring 46 out of the 50 most heavily used mobile apps.

"That's huge progress for us," Joe Belfiore, manager of Microsoft's Windows Phone program, said during a presentation today.

There are now 120,000 apps in the Windows Phone marketplace. That's pretty good for Microsoft, but it still falls well short of Android and iOS . Apple last month said its store had 700,000 applications, while Google said its Play store offered 675,000.

Microsoft has been working closely with app developers to get them to revise and publish apps for the latest version of the software giant's handset operating system, Belfiore said. That includes popular programs like Facebook, Twitter, Words With Friends, Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Urban Spoon.

Windows Phone 8 will also have a new version of Skype specifically for the OS that's built to integrate naturally with the software.

And Pandora will be available in 2013, with Microsoft offering a year of free music with no ads. Pandora today also said it has surpassed 175 million registered users.

Microsoft hopes its smartphone operating system will gain traction with users and better compete with Android and iOS. The company has faced criticism over the dearth of apps available for Windows Phone, but it has been pushing developers to offer more programs. It's likely to remain a big focus for Microsoft in coming months and years as it expands its presence in the handset market.

The company last month angered developers when it said it was limiting who would have access to the software development kit for Windows Phone 8. In a blog post at that time, Microsoft said only developers of the most-downloaded apps would get in early, while the rest would get access only at the time of the launch because Microsoft was trying to keep some features secret.

Update, 11:05 a.m. PT: Adds more app details.

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