The Associated Press

REDMOND, Wash. – Microsoft (Nasdaq: MFST) has taken another step toward a holiday release for its next generation of smart phones.

The software maker isn’t giving an exact launch date for Windows Phone 7. But the company says the tools programmers will use to build Windows Phone 7 applications are complete.


It says developers can start submitting apps to Microsoft for approval in October.

Microsoft Corp. is an underdog in the modern smart phone market, given Apple Inc. and Google Inc.’s head start.

Developers may not rush to build apps for a phone that has not captured significant market share.

But Microsoft hopes its long-standing relations with developers may give it an edge. Its tools are similar to those for creating Windows PC programs.

At a media event Wednesday evening, Microsoft demonstrated several early apps, among them one from Netflix Inc. that gives subscribers access to the DVD-by-mail company’s streaming movie library.

"I think they are driving the point home that this is a true developer’s paradise environment," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa in an e-mail. "Certainly from the tools perspective, they probably have the best in the industry."

While third-party programs for smart phones were around before the iPhone, Apple changed the industry with its iTunes app store, the only place iPhone users can go to buy or download free apps. Google built its own Android marketplace, though it allows Android phone users to install apps it hasn’t vetted.

With past versions of Windows Mobile, Microsoft allowed phone users to install apps from its marketplace and from other sites. But with Windows Phone 7, the company is moving to Apple’s model, and only allowing apps it has tested and approved to reach its devices.

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