Microsoft revealed the next version of its Windows Phone mobile operating system today. The release is going by the code name "Mango," and it includes hundreds of new features, according to the company.
“When we looked ahead to the next release, we wanted to stay true to the principles of Windows Phone 7 – that software should get out of your way and quickly connect you to the things that matter most,” said Greg Sullivan, senior product manager of mobile communications at Microsoft. “Mango builds on the work that we did in Windows Phone 7 and extends a lot of key scenarios around communications, apps, and Internet experiences – with even more capability and a deeper level of integration.”
The OS comes with an interesting "App Connect" feature that connects apps to search results and is designed to surface app "when and where they make sense."
A user can search Bing for a movie, for example, and the search results deliver things like show times and theater locations, but App Connect may add functionality from the Fandango app that lets you purchsae the ticket right from there.
"It’s like having a great butler or a valet that you've known for 30 years who can anticipate your every need instead you doing all the work yourself," Sullivan said. "Windows Phone stitches all of this together for you and connects the applications you have on your phone, or that we have in the marketplace, to the rest of what you're doing, in a way that's much, much deeper than any other platform. So you can go from Binging to buying in seconds."
The OS also comes with a "People Hub," which puts together contacts from various ways you may connect with people: Facebook, Twiter, Email, LinkedIn, and Windows Live Messenger. “Our friends are people – they’re not apps,” Sullivan said. “Mango makes it super easy to put people first then lets users chose the way they want to communicate.”
Other interesting search elements Mango brings to the table include:
How well all of these features actually work remains to be seen, but it all sounds pretty good in theory.
More features are discussed here.
Al Hilwa, Program Director for Applications Development Software at IDC tells WebProNews, "Much is heard about what Microsoft is not doing right or how far behind it is in mobile. Behind in the market it is for sure, but what we have seen and are seeing from the Windows Phone team is the kind of stuff needed to win in the big ecosystem battle. The market is moving fast and it appears like there is no time to catch up, but in reality, we are entering a decade-long transition in devices that will turn software models around like tumbleweed, and it is important for the players to take their time and think through their strategies."
"Microsoft’s biggest weakness appears to be the lack of tablets, but in reality, even the fast market responses to tablets from the Android world have so far let the iPad continue to walk-way unchallenged," he adds. "Microsoft appears to be making its bets in the tablet space with its big-guns, namely the full Windows Ecosystem. Windows 8 is the opening salvo, which we are likely to hear about in the fall."
"The Nokia deal changes the game and puts Windows Phone on the map, we are all waiting for the first phones. To win, they have to address low-end and high-end phones early. For Mango, I like the larger language and geo portfolio and the new OEMs on board with the platform," says Hilwa.
"If Windows Phone 7 attempted to match the state of the art of the year in 2010, we have seen in Mango the outlines of a release with features that finally begin to pull ahead of the competition."
"I like the integration of developer apps into many aspects of the phone, such as Hubs and Bing Search in the browser," he says. "Mango also brings social networking and email features to new levels. I like the new email features like thread grouping, pinnable folders, server searching, IRM, etc…"
Mobile is essential to the future success of Bing. Mango will extend Windows Phone's global reach, so that should certainly help spread Bing use even more, in addition to the recent partnerships with Nokia and RIM.
The new Windows Phone OS will be available in the fall.