Online Windows Phone Marketplace portal due with Mango

Microsoft has announced that it will be launching a web-version of the Windows Phone Marketplace, allowing users with WP smartphones to browse the catalog together with buy apps and send them directly to their handsets. The new service is due to go online in time with Windows Phone 7.1 Mango's arrival this fall.

The functionality mimics what Android already offers at, and makes finding new software and sharing it both with your own device and with those friends who also use Windows Phone devices more straightforward. According to Microsoft, there are now over 18,000 apps available, and that number is expected to increase dramatically as Nokia developers turn their attention to the platform.

The beta Mango developer tools are available today. With Mango's arrival, the Windows Phone Marketplace will expand to 35 countries (from 16 today), including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea (South), Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and Taiwan. Plus, app submission in China, Israel and Luxembourg is now supported.