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GAH: Now it's INSTAGRAM and Windows Phone 8

Redmond can't quite believe it - ported app doesn't even have all its features

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Image-flinging billion-dollar upstart Instagram has agreed to port its photo-bothering app to Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.

Yesterday, Redmond chairman Bill Gates choked back tears at a shareholder meeting. We assumed he was weeping over the retirement of shy CEO Steve Ballmer. Perhaps instead it was tears of joy that his company's mobile operating system is getting more software that's popular with the yoof.

The Facebook-owned app, along with Google-owned real-time road traffic utility Waze, is today available for free as a beta from Redmond's online shop.

"I’m happy to announce that Instagram and Waze are now available in the Store for Windows Phone 8," gushed not someone from Instagram, but Microsoft senior blog writer Michael Stroh. It's a "great time to own a Windows Phone", he insisted.

It also reminds everyone just how important, no, vital third-party software is to an operating system – especially Windows Phone, which is apparently holding onto 3.6 per cent of the world's smartmobe market. Luring some of Instagram's 150 million regular users will help nudge that up a notch.

When every new phone can more or less do the basics – calls, texts, web – well, manufacturers look for ways to differentiate themselves: Android handset makers know this, with customized bundled apps, and even smartwatch builders know this.

And Microsoft knows this, as demonstrated when it has to publicly cry for joy at an app port (although Instagram also made a note of the launch).

There are some 190,000 programs in Microsoft's mobile shop, versus the 1,000,000-plus available from each of Apple's and Google's long-established online stores. The gap in available software is one thing. It's also worth noting that the Instagram application for WP 8 lacks the Vine-spoiling video upload feature in its iOS and Android counterparts.

And you cannot take snaps directly using the Windows Phone 8 'gram app; instead you're diverted to the OS-provided picture gallery, where you can use a stored photo or take a new one, apply a hipster distortion field using Instagram, and brag about it with your mates.

"Windows Phone users will be directed to their camera roll instead of a camera interface initially, where they have the option to either select an existing photo or take a new photo to apply filter to before sharing,” Stroh was quick to explain. ®

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