'Developers, developers, developers,' is a mantra you commonly hear talking to people at Microsoft and Apple - the people who make operating systems that can run other people's software. They know that the more people you can get making software for your platform, the more essential your platform will become. In mobile, that's just as true, with all the major operating systems fighting to get as many apps developed for their system as possible.

The app war has a clear leader: Apple, whose iOS boasts over 400,000 different apps. Coming up close behind is Google's Android, which boasts 200,000.

Well now there's a challenger: Windows Phone 7, launched a few months ago as Microsoft's latest salvo in the smartphone battle. And the signs are it's doing a pretty good job enticing those all-important developers. Just three months after its launch, Microsoft's app store - dubbed 'Windows Phone Marketplace' - has over 5,000 apps in it.

That might not sound impressive, but to put it it perspective, that's the same number of apps as are available to users of Palm's WebOS - which has been around 18 months. The signs are that major titles are coming to Windows Phone 7, which will be a big boost to Microsoft's aims to overtake Google as the de facto rival to Apple.

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