The closure affects devices running Windows Mobile 6.x and not the more current Windows Phone devices, which access the Windows Phone Marketplace for their apps.
Those with older Windows phones, however, have two months to download or update any apps from the older marketplace.
“Starting on [May 9], you will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications directly on your Windows Mobile 6.x phone using the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace application and service,” Microsoft said in an email sent to users today.
Apps and games that have been installed on Windows Mobile devices will still work after May 9, but new downloads will not be available. All those apps will be deleted forever, however, if your phone is wiped or you do a hard reset on your device – including data on removable storage cards.
There’s a chance, of course, that apps and games might be available directly from developers via third-party marketplaces.
“Microsoft recommends you review the applications or games installed on your Windows Mobile 6.x phone and install any available updates in advance of the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace service shut-down on May 9, 2012,” the company said.
The Windows Mobile Marketplace made its debut in October 2009 and was accessible for devices running Windows Mobile 6.5.
A Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail that the shuttering of Windows Mobile Marketplace is representative of Microsoft’s “intent to begin transitioning engineering and support resources from older Windows Mobile 6.x based services to Windows Phone. This is a natural evolution as Microsoft invests in newer and better experiences for Windows Phone customers.”
When asked if Windows Mobile devices can be upgraded to Windows Phone, the spokesperson answered in the negative:
“Windows Mobile 6.x devices are not updatable to the Windows Phone 7 OS…Windows Mobile 6.x devices do not meet Windows Phone hardware requirements designed to ensure a consistent user and developer experience. Windows Mobile 6.x customers who are interested in updating to Windows Phone will need to purchase a new Windows Phone handset, which are available at a variety of price points from mobile operators in Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia.”