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Mango Phone 7 Update Enhances User Experience

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1 Mango Phone 7 Update Enhances User Experience on Fri May 27, 2011 6:23 pm


Ramping up its effort to break into a smartphone market that seems to be passing it by, Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled the first major update to Windows Phone 7, seven months after the software giant introduced the revamped mobile operating system. Nicknamed Mango, the update will enhance the social-media connectivity of Windows phones, an effort in which Microsoft failed terribly last year when it briefly featured a series of Kin phones centered on quick-share options.

In a series of media events around the world Tuesday, Microsoft officials demonstrated enhancements to its live-tiles system allowing dedicated space for updates from groups or individuals as well as localized search for Bing; smart camera operation through Bing Vision that allows scanning of bar codes or searching based on pictures or text; and Music Search, which allows users to hold up their phone to listen to, identify and download songs, as users of Verizon's VCAST can do.

Pushing Boundaries

In the biggest nod to the social-media addicted, Mango will allow threads to incorporate texts, Windows Live Messenger messages, and Facebook chats into a single conversation.

In all, Mango has 500 new features the company says will "push the boundaries of the smartphone experience around communications, apps and the Internet."

The timing for updates of existing phones wasn't announced, but a new Phone 7 devices are due this fall from Fujitsu, Acer and ZTE that will ship with Mango, as will upcoming Nokia devices.

Finland-based Nokia recently signed a deal estimated to be worth $1 billion to replace its Symbian operating system with Phone 7 on many devices.

Currently, Phone 7 is available on a handful of smartphones made by HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell.

Microsoft also announced added support for additional languages, and expanded access to Windows Phone Marketplace in 19 new countries. The beta software developer kit for creating Mango apps is also available now.

"Seven months ago we started our mission to make smartphones smarter and easier for people to do more," said Andy Lees, president of the mobile communications business at Microsoft. "With Mango, Windows Phone takes a major step forward in redefining how people communicate and use apps and the Internet, giving you better results with less effort."

Still Trailing

According to Gartner Research, sales of Phone 7 devices made up 6.8 percent of the global market in the first quarter, almost unchanged from the previous quarter and still trailing Symbian (44.2 percent), Research In Motion's BlackBerry (19.7 percent), Apple's iOS (15.3 percent), and Google's Android (9.6 percent.)

Can Mango give Phone 7 a boost?

"It's always hard to judge when you have not actually played with the device, but certainly it looks like on paper they are improving the experience in social, Internet and apps -- three core aspects of what users do with smartphones," said Gartner Vice President Carolina Milanesi. "It's good to see that [the] Nokia [deal] has not put off vendors and new licensees were announced today. Not sure this is much about hardware, to be honest. This is about delivering a stronger experience on whatever hardware you have, and having had hardware at the launch might have taken away from what matters, which is the software."

But she said what devices use Windows is secondary to making the user experience more sexy as an interface, an area where Android and iOS have excelled. "This is what Mango is trying to address," she said. "Having had this at launch would have made (Phone 7) a stronger proposition from the get-go."

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