Before Microsoft gets around to finally launching Windows Marketplace for Mobile we thought it would be a good idea to do a round up of some of our favourite Windows smartphone apps. One of the big advantages of the Windows Mobile platform is that because it's been around so long it's well understood by developers and as a result there's a huge range of software available covering everything from serious business applications to cool 3D driving games and everything in-between. Naturally with so many to choose from this list can't hope to cover all of the best apps. Instead it represents a selection of our current favourites, so feel free to add your own must-haves in the comments section.
CoreCodec CorePlayer Mobile
It may be an obvious choice, but CorePlayer Mobile is one of the most useful add-ons for any Windows Mobile device. It puts Microsoft's own Windows Media Player to shame not just by the quality of its playback, but also in the sheer number of formats supported. Along with the likes of Xvid and Divx, new formats such as Matroska are being added all the time. It can also take advantage of the GPU chips in several of the latest devices to off load processing from the main CPU and speed up playback.
Microsoft's Pocket Internet Explorer is OK as far as it goes, but if you really want to make the most of your phone's web browsing capabilities then you owe it to yourself to use Opera Mobile. Opera is faster, has better panning and zooming features and a much better user interface than Pocket IE. In fact, it's so good, many manufacturers, such as HTC and Samsung, now bundled it as standard with their handsets. However, if your phone hasn't got it preloaded head over to Opera.com and download a copy pronto.
SPB Mobile Shell
The drawbacks of the native Windows Mobile interface are well documented so we won't go over them again here. Luckily there are many applications that you can use to give your phone's interface a bit of a facelift. One of the most user-friendly in our opinion is SPB Mobile Shell. Not only does it present you with a great looking and informative home screen, but it also gives you finger-friendly access to commonly used applications, settings and contacts.
Intermorphic Mixtikl Mobile
It might not appeal to everyone, but if you're into music making then you'll find that Mixtikl is a little gem of an application. It's a replacement for the much loved, but now discontinued MiniMixa app and is essentially a music creation program that lets you mix together up to 12 tracks of audio. However, what really impresses is the way Mixtikl lets you tweak pretty much every aspect of the music from synth sounds to audio effects. It even includes its own automatic music composition engine and there's also a companion PC application so you can ferry songs back and forth between your phone and desktop PC.
Sure there are tons of native games that can show off your phone's muscle with amazing 3D graphics and stunning sound. However, games are like jokes in that sometimes it's the oldest ones that are the best. If you fancy a blast on classics like 1942 or Tempest then you need a copy of the MAME arcade emulator. Unfortunately there aren't many good ports of Mame for Windows Mobile. However, even though it hasn't been updated for yonks, PocketcultMAME is still one of the better ones around so it's worth giving it a whirl to see if it'll work on your phone.