Today Microsoft took to the official Windows Phone Blog to make a couple of announcements concerning the Marketplace (now home to over 80,000 apps) that users will want to be aware of. First up, the company will be ending the ability to browse and download Windows Phone apps using the Zune software. That method of downloading apps was one of three, along with browsing the Marketplace on the device or using the web version, but Microsoft says that users often prefer using those over going the Zune route. As a result, Microsoft is killing off the option to download apps through Zune in order to help it better focus its efforts on the phone and web stores.
Additionally, Microsoft says that in the next few weeks, it plans to begin requiring users be running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango in order to download a new app, update an existing app or submit an app review to the Marketplace. The company notes that "most of you already carry phones that are running Windows Phone 7.5," but that any users that aren't on Mango will need to make the move soon. Users that don't update will still be able to browse the Marketplace but will receive an error message if they try to download or update an app. The decision was made in order to help improve the security and performance of the Marketplace as well as to help to pave the way for new features, Microsoft said.
These decisions by Microsoft shouldn't be too big of a deal for most Windows Phone folk. The ability to download apps from Zune may be missed by some, but those users will still have two other methods of getting at new software, and most Windows Phone owners should've been given the opportunity to update to Mango some time ago. Still, it's good to see Microsoft giving users a heads-up on the incoming changes.