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Web-based Windows Phone Marketplace opens

Microsoft completely overhauls its previous joke of an online storefront to offer a robust, Web-based home for apps that can download over-the-air to your Windows Phone.

Windows Phone Marketplace
The new Windows Phone Marketplace is sharper and well-populated.
Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

In advance of its anticipated "Mango" software update, Microsoft is throwing open the doors to its newly renovated online Windows Phone Marketplace.

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The initial Marketplace was little more than a placeholder for things to come, a mostly static repository for maybe a thousand apps total. (Microsoft is now up to 30,000 titles compatible with Windows Phone.) In contrast, the new online Marketplace storefront is a sharper-looking app catalog complete with purchasing power and over-the-air downloads.

As with Google's and RIM's Web-based application storefronts, you'll be able to narrow your search by apps and games, and you'll see the usual spotlight for featured apps. Ever interested in pleasing socialites, the made-over Marketplace will also let you share app favorites through Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail.

The new and improved Windows Phone Marketplace will also track your history, and help you reinstall apps if you tend to hopscotch handsets.

The online Marketplace opens in 35 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States.