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Windows Phone 7 Tools Downloaded 1.5 Million Times

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 (WP7) mobile devices have been on the market for more than five months so far, and the company is touting that its app store now has some 11,500 apps available.

While that's well behind the 350,000 or so apps available via Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) App Store, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) officials claim that isn't bad for just a few months of availability, while playing down the importance of comparisons regarding the overall numbers.

"We recognize the importance of getting great apps on our platform and not artificially inflating the number of actual apps available to customer by listing 'wallpapers' as a category, or perhaps allowing competitor's apps to run on the platform to increase 'tonnage'," Brandon Watson, Microsoft's director of developer experience said in a post to the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Wednesday.

So, instead of focusing on app numbers, Watson chose to point to the number of times the free developer tools for WP7 -- Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone and Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone -- have been downloaded -- more than 1.5 million times.

"The number of downloads equates to the size of the entire population of Philadelphia," Watson said. He went on to complain that some other app stores inflate their numbers by counting apps that are available in multiple languages as multiple apps.

Watson said that the quality of the developers and their apps is more important than the quantity, however. Despite the number of downloads, the important number is that 36,000 developers have signed up to be paying members of theWP7 app developer program.

Of course, the value of such comparisons is often in the eye of the beholder.

"There are currently over 350,000 apps available on the App Store, over 65,000 specifically optimized for iPad [as well as] ... over 10 billion downloads to date [and] over $2 billion paid out to developers," an Apple spokesperson said in an email to InternetNews.com. As far as developers signed up to write apps for iOS, Apple claimed it had 200,000 in October.

However, as many analysts have said, the market for smartphones and other intelligent mobile devices like tablets is still nascent and fast evolving. Anything -- almost -- can still happen.

For instance, earlier this week, researcher IDC, issued a Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker that predicts WP7, due in large part to the recent deal with Nokia, will be in a strong second place among the major smartphone operating systems in 2015 with a market share of 20.9 percent.

Still that would be well behind Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android, with a market share of 45.4 percent in 2015, according to IDC.

However, the same tracker has iOS in 2015 with 15.3 percent market share, and BlackBerry at 13.7 percent.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.