The latest version of the Windows Phone 7 operating system ‘Mango’ has been released to manufacturing, Microsoft confirmed. It will come pre-installed on new Windows Phone devices in the autumn.
Terry Myerson, corporate vice-president at Microsoft in charge of Windows Phone Engineering, revealed that the new operating system will come with the following features:
· A unique new email Conversation View, which helps users efficiently participate in long email discussions with friends and co-workers.
· Threads, which brings together text, IM and Facebook chat all into one conversation.
· App Multitasking, enabling users to efficiently work on email, listen to music, and then pop in and out of Words by Post games when it is his or her turn. Mango also connects apps to search results and deepens integration within the Hubs, like Music and Video and Pictures.
· Internet Explorer 9 for fast web browsing and support for new HTML 5 websites.
Myerson said: “Earlier this morning, the Windows Phone development team officially signed off on the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of ‘Mango’ – the latest version of the Windows Phone operating system. This marks the point in the development process where we hand code to our handset and mobile operator partners to optimise Mango for their specific phone and network configurations.
“Here on the Windows Phone team, we now turn to preparing for the update process. The Mango update for current Windows Phone handsets will be ready this fall, and of course will come pre-installed on new Windows Phones,” Myerson added.
A ‘Sea Ray’ of light, a Mango or a lemon?
In 2011, it is widely acknowledged that the smartphone market as we know it will be pretty much an Apple iOS or a Google Android affair, as former stalwarts Nokia and RIM go off to lick their wounds and figure out why they got it so wrong. They got it wrong because they thought they were omnipotent and invincible. They were wrong and now they’re paying for it.
It is likely Samsung will become the world’s biggest shipper of smartphones and ultimately it will be the year Android took the No 1 spot in terms of smartphone operating systems.
So where does this leave Microsoft and why do I get the feeling Nokia is certain it will return triumphantly to the field?
Two things occupy my mind that suggest 2012 will be an altogether different year. Firstly, for Apple’s iOS with the launch of the iPhone 5, conditions and expectations are fairly good. It can be confident consumers will clamour for the device, which it controls rigidly by creating its own hardware and its own software. They’ve done their homework, worked hard, deserve the kudos. Not much will change on that front.
The battle will be particularly interesting on the Android vs Windows Phone front. Why? Because there are gaps in Android’s frontline and steely courage from a player (or players) with an eye on a quality hardware and software experience could win the day.
You see, while Android appears to be in rude health – 500,000 activations a day and some 300 different devices in the field – rumours of a 40pc return rate that emerged in recent days is not a good sign. The devices are brilliant and some manufacturers, such as HTC with its Sense layer, really make the Android a stand-out solid experience. But what if it goes too crazy, with too many manufacturers and not enough control over quality experiences, then the Android experience could become tarnished.
When footage appeared recently of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop showing off a new device called ‘Sea Ray’, which will be its first Mango-powered Windows Phone device, the tremor in his voice showed excitement, emotion.
The battle for smartphones will exist as long as people feel they need to carry these devices and in a world where we will exist in an ‘internet of things’, today’s victors could be tomorrow’s losers.
The battlefield is going to change again and again. In the past, Apple had been beaten and once had to be saved by Microsoft, for example. In the world of ‘three screens’ where your digital lifestyle is no longer confined to a PC, but will be with you wherever you are and on any device of your choosing, the real victors will be those who make the hardware experience and the software experience exceptional.
Apple knows this; RIM forgot this; Google is learning this … Perhaps Nokia and Microsoft have it figured out? The months ahead will be interesting and will decide if 2012 will be a different year.
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