Microsoft’s WinPho7 Strategy: A Mango A Day Keeps Apple At Bay!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on April 26, 2011

Though Microsoft did most things right in the build up to WP7, the Windows giant failed on the first major post lunch hurdle. Ever since WinPho7 was launched, most device owners have been pondering “Where’s my phone update”? The lack of unresponsiveness from Microsoft provided an opportunity for developers such as Chris Walsh, to release tools that allow WP7 users to update their devices “at their own risk”.

Understandably, Ballmer & co. aren’t amused. In a conscious effort to revive user confidence in WP7, the company has begun providing details on the next major update to the platform, codenamed “Mango.” Although Microsoft didn’t make a formal announcement, this tweet and this page on Microsoft Partner Network suggests Windows Phone 7.5 may well be Microsoft’s Mango moment.

Microsoft promises Mango will provide a world of goodies including IE 9 Mobile, application multitasking, Kinect-like motion sensing, Twitter integration; and access to a SQL database for the phone. A faster/ smarter browser, ability to multi-task and database access – where have I heard these before?

Surely, Microsoft believes a Mango a day would keep Apple at bay!

Developer tools for the Mango update are expected to arrive in May 2011 and Mango preloaded devices might start shipping as early as this holiday season. Microsoft first previewed Mango at its MIX11 conference in April, going at length to explain how it handles multitasking, improves performance and updates the interface. A tweet by @KADacey suggests Mango might offer native check-in capabilities as well.

Interestingly, Microsoft says no version number has been officially announced for the next major WP7 update. In the past, Microsoft has often goofed up on its OS version numbers and code names. Windows Mobile had version numbers, but then Microsoft decided to launch Windows Phone without a version number. Things changed with the release of the Windows Phone 7 Series, which eventually dropped the “Series” tag and is now called Windows Phone 7 (aka WinPho7, WP7).

In a related move, Microsoft and Nokia will soon launch a new Nokia-branded application store on future Windows Phones handsets, which will also port some of Nokia’s bestselling Symbian apps, such as its Ovi Maps feature, to the new phones. The idea is to enable developers to “publish and distribute applications through a single developer portal to hundreds of millions of consumers that use Windows Phone, Symbian and Series 40 devices”.

As far as the feature set is concerned, improved multi-tasking would perhaps be Mango’s USP. Microsoft says its enhanced WP7 capabilities to allow for fast applications switching, as well as background audio and file transfer. These capabilities already exist in Android as well as iOS so how Microsoft plans to differentiate itself remains to be seen. Mango is slated to provide better access to UI features such as Live Tiles and push notifications.

From a developer’s perspective, Mango may finally offer the ability to merge Silverlight and XNA in the same project. A large number of WP7 developers have requested Microsoft to include a 3D canvas in the WP7 update and it’s already supported in Silverlight 5.  This would allow developers to add Silverlight controls to a 3D app and improve the overall UI/ gaming experience.

Last month, an IDC report predicted Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform will move from near-last place today to number two, just behind Google’s Android, by 2015. Can Microsoft’s Mango overtake the mighty Apple? Time will tell.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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