Top 10K Paid US Marketplace Apps Collage; "Signature" Deals for Windows 8 PCs; Release Preview Hints at June 8th Release; 9.6 Million US SMBs Adopts Office 365

Windows Phone Marketplace has crossed 90,000 apps mark recently. Cliff Simpkins, a project manager for Windows Phone, posted a collage on twitter stating the image is a valid representation of top 10,000 paid apps in the United States as on May 18th 2012. For your Friday photo, I give you the Top 10k paid apps […]

Windows Phone Marketplace has crossed 90,000 apps mark recently. Cliff Simpkins, a project manager for Windows Phone, posted a collage on twitter stating the image is a valid representation of top 10,000 paid apps in the United States as on May 18th 2012.

The image mesmerizing collage of application icons that are currently selling in the Windows Phone marketplace.

Windows Phone Marketplace Collage of 10,000 Paid Apps

Microsoft Store, a small chain of retail stores now has 21 operating or in the works is offering a service for $99 dubbed "Signature Upgrade."

This feature, which has been available for a while now scrubs "bloatware" from Windows PCs. "We take off all the bloatware on the PC," said a Microsoft store employee Wednesday when asked about the service. On Microsoft's website, the company described the Signature Upgrade this way: "We'll install everything you need and remove the things you don't, for a faster, more efficient, and secure PC experience."

A Signature Upgrade requires the Windows PC to be left at the store for 24 to 48 hours.

Signature Upgrade is an offshoot of the Signature line of Windows PCs that Microsoft sells in its retail outlets and online. Those hand-picked notebooks and desktops are optimized for performance, says the Redmond, Wash. company, with "no trialware and sample software that typically bogs down new PCs."

The Signature systems are, however, pre-loaded with Microsoft's own Security Essentials antivirus software, and several other programs from the now-defunct Windows Live brand.

Bloatware (or trialware) refer to PC makers' habit of loading crippled versions of commercial software on the hard drive in the hope that some will upgrade to for-a-fee editions. Computer makers are paid by trialware creators and receive a portion of the revenue from any user upgrades.

All Microsoft Store locations sell Windows PCs from companies such as Dell, HP, Acer, Samsung and Toshiba. The stores pledge to strip down the amount of trial programs and other pre-installed software that is normally offered on PCs. Usually, those programs end up never being used by the owner of the PC and can slow down its performance.

The retail stores, as well as Microsoft's online storefront, sell dozens of different PCs that have been stripped of bloatware, including models from Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. All are, of course, equipped with Windows 7.

Now, Microsoft plans to give the "Signature" services to Windows 8 PCs when that OS is released sometime later this year, Computerworld.com reports.

Windows 8 won't solve the bloatware problem -- Microsoft cannot control what OEMs put on their machines -- but the Metro interface, which relies on the Windows Store for all app distribution, might curb some of the more aggressive practices. Last fall, Microsoft told hardware makers that it would limit automatic Metro app installations to just one per external device.

The company has also added new tools to Windows 8, called Reset and Refresh, that will let users restore their PCs to an out-of-the-box state. Microsoft did not connect the new tools to bloatware removal when it announced them last January, but stressed the simplicity of a chore that previously took multiple steps and required manual reinstallation of the OS.

Microsoft has not yet announced a launch date for Windows 8.

But, a new tweet, revealed that Microsoft has already compiled Windows 8 Release Preview build 8400. And, that Microsoft planning to launch the Windows 8 Release Preview on June 8th.

Also, in another tweet, Paul Thurrot points to the reference "8" in the screenshot that Microsoft embedded in its Windows 8 user experience blog post, says, hints the June 8 Release Preview.

"Win8 Release Preview on June 8 (6/8)? This shots says yes. Look at Calendar app ... And Weather too! (68 deg, or 6/8)," tweeted Thurrot.

In other news, Microsoft's cloud offering, Office 365 released to public June last year, is completing its one-year. Microsoft says, that a wide range of small and medium businesses around the world, and in the United States as well already adopted the service.

"During the month of May we celebrate the almost 10 million small businesses in the United States with learning sessions, tweetups, giveaways, and other special events," Microsoft announced.

Small and Medium Businesses and Office 365

Between May 14-19, Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Intune, and Windows Phone had certified Microsoft Partners at T-Mobile stores across the United States. Attendees had the possibility to learn more on what Microsoft's cloud solution (Office 365 and Windows Intune with the Windows Phone) had to offer to them, and could also register for a small business sweepstakes valued at $60,000 in prizes.

Next week, Microsoft is hosting the Accelerator Room: Touch down, Connect, Network and Relax, which includes a tweetup on May 22nd with a special guest from the Small Business Administration and Microsoft SMB at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington DC.