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Windows Marketplace: get your hot, fresh WinMo apps here!

Windows Marketplace has ramped up its Web site, offering the ability to browse and buy apps online instead of just on your WinMo phone

The Windows Marketplace has rolled up the shutters and opened for business on the Web. You could already buy apps from your Windows Mobile 6.5 phone, but now you can log in and shop till you drop on the Windows Marketplace Web site.

To do anything but browse, you have to be signed into the Marketplace from your Windows mobile phone first. You can register a credit card on the site to buy, but you don't have to have one to start loading up free apps.

Unlike Apple's App Store, which downloads apps to your computer and then syncs them on to the iPhone, Windows Marketplace doesn't download anything to your PC. Instead, apps are downloaded directly on to your phone the next time you open Marketplace on the handset.

Microsoft hopes by cutting out the computer middleman, it's less likely that people will start passing around apps without paying. It's also trying to thwart pirates by automatically deleting the installation file from the phone once the app is installed.

We can't get too excited about an app store that only has a few dozen apps on it, even if Windows Mobile is the greatest app story ever told. But the store does look good enough to bring more fun to WinMo once the shelves are stocked.