Microsoft is predicting that a global boom in smartphones will be good news for its Windows Mobile operating system.

Now in version 6.1, the OS software is expected to enjoy a 50% sales increase, if not more, in the 2008-09 financial year says its developer.

Microsoft told Reuters that it expects to sell 20 million units in this financial year, which ends in June, and expects to grow at least 50% annually over the next 2 years.

It sold over 11 million units of its Windows Mobile software in its 2006/2007 fiscal year.

Growth is steady in Europe and the US - but booming in newer markets such as the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Brazil, Russia and India.

However, analysts say that, even with massive growth, Win Mobile will not compete against the Symbian system, but did add that the increasing popularity of touchscreen models could go in Microsoft's favour.