Microsoft previewed its Windows Phone 7 update, code-named "Mango," today and the company is calling it a more "people-centric approach" to its smartphone operating system.
"We wanted to provide the customer with less clutter, more clarity," said Andy Lees, President of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business at a press conference in New York City this morning, as reported by Sam Gustin of Wired. "This builds upon our mission to make the smartphone smarter, and easier.
Mango boasts a tighter integration with Facebook (which Microsoft partly owns), Bing and Skype (which Microsoft recently bought).
"One of the key components of the new Windows Phone 7 is the 'people hub,' an all-in-one contacts list with tight Facebook integration that allows users to text, call, IM or tweet at people on your contacts list," Gustin wrote. "Other new features Microsoft announced for the software update were multitasking, copy-and-paste and multimedia messaging."
Here's a video preview of the Mango's new features.
Mango is expected to be available on phones this fall. This will also be the only release on Nokia's first WP7 devices (see Nokia and Microsoft).
Matt Buchanan of Gizmodo.com called the new Mango features "really slick and thoughtful... stuff Windows Phone simply should be doing." He adds that this update helps Microsoft get caught up with iPhone and Android, but since these features won't be available until the fall - after iOS5 launches - "Microsoft could again be catching up to what's already been done."
My colleague, Chris Nicol, uses a WP7 phone and says, "From a consumer's perspective, the three biggest improvements are multitasking, the tight integration with things like Facebook and Twitter and HTML5 support in Internet Explorer 9."
- About Facebook instant messaging: "If I'm Facebook chatting with somebody and I go offline, it will revert to a text message so I don't lose any steps in the conversation."
- About HTML5: "HTML5 support means that you can watch video on websites that support HTML5 (which brings Flash features previously unavailable to HTML) and access HTML5-compatible sites," says Chris.
- About app development: "From a development standpoint, one of the most exciting new things is support for sockets. Sockets give us the ability to support stuff like multiplayer games and IM chats. Opening these lines of communication will allow developers to create more interactive apps. Also, we have more integration points into the OS ecosystem, which will provide a better, more seamless experience for consumers."