Software giant Microsoft was banging the app store drum at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, confirming plans to launch a mobile content marketplace of its own in the wake of similar moves by Apple and Nokia.

Details of the app shop were thin on the ground however, with the Redmond Giant only revealing that the marketplace is due to launch in the fourth quarter of this year, with a showcase of around 20,000 apps, of which two thirds will be targeted at consumers.

Speaking to, Roderick van der Graaf, EMEA enterprise marketing manager for the mobile communications unit at Microsoft, was keen to point out the importance of mobile to the company. By way of illustration, when the firm introduces version 6.5 of its mobile handset operating system in the fourth quarter of this year, the word ‘mobile’ will be dropped from the branding.

“Mobile is a key part of Microsoft,” said van der Graaf, “but Microsoft itself is just a small part of the platform, which also includes operators, handset manufacturers and developers.”

Version 6.5 of the Windows mobile platform will see the company push even further into the consumer space with a flashier user interface and easier access to information by reducing the configuration and number of clicks required.

Microsoft is also jumping on another bandwagon by increasing its focus on the ‘cloud’. “Mobile isn’t just about the device, it’s about accessing information on any device,” said van der Graaf. “All a user’s information is in the cloud, where the internet, PC and phone are all integrated.”

Microsoft also confirmed the launch of its My Phone mobile data back up and restore service, following a leak about the offering last week.