It was in December 2008 that Microsoft first decided to start their quest to break down the barriers between the different smartphone operating systems, by developing an application called Seadragon for the iPhone. It was an app that allowed users to ‘infinitely’ zoom gigapixel-sized images. This was followed in early 2009 with the release of another app known as Tag, the app now developed for release on the Android system, another of Windows Mobile’s key rivals. The Tag app can be downloaded through the mobile broadband data plans of the phones’ owners.

The Tag application is a free piece of software that can be used to transform the camera of any smartphone handset into a mobile barcode reader. All that you, the user, need to do is take a photo of a Tag image in, for example, advertisements, storefronts, product packaging, and using your mobile broadband plans you will be granted with access to a range of information, from websites to reviews, contact information to discount codes. It’s a useful application and one that has been downloaded many times from the stores of the iPhone, Blackberry and Symbian handsets. The Android system is, in fact, among the last to have access to this app.

This is the first application to be released by Microsoft for the Android system, but based on the program that the company has adopted of creating software for the rival firms, it is unlikely to be the last. Cooperation between the different operators of mobile phone software is something that we are likely to see more of as time goes by, creating a much easier development environment for anyone creating applications.

On February the 24th, 2010, a collection of large mobile network phone operators actually grouped together in order to create a Wholesale Applications Community, to help to make life easier for application developers. Rumours are abounding that the move is in an attempt to remove control of the application market away from large software corporations and the handset makers themselves. This could shake up the world of smartphone applications as we know it, with more apps coming from unknown sources rather than large companies.

Mobile applications are a lucrative business, with people around the world able to download handy tools via their mobile broadband data plans, wherever they may be. Apple’s App Store had facilitated the download of more than three billion application downloads from the dawn of the store until January this year. This, the largest and longest running application download environment, demonstrates the desire of the public to have access to the latest and greatest technologies, available for download from their broadband providers.

Microsoft will be hoping to reclaim their share of the market with a complete revamp of their often criticised mobile phone operating system, Windows Mobile. The Windows Phone 7 Series is likely to follow the success of the critically acclaimed Windows 7 operating system, and is set to be launched within 2010.