Microsoft Reveals Details of Major WP7 Update Called Mango

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At a conference for developers last week, Microsoft began revealing details of the major update to Windows Phone 7 code-named Mango, which is expected later this year. This week we'll look at some of these details, as well as the news that Skype is coming to Windows Phone.

Microsoft's Market Share Declined Last Fall

The verdict is still out on whether Microsoft will be a player in the mobile arena. The Motley Fool posted an article saying that last year's rollout of Windows Phone 7 was largely a nonevent.

The number of people using Microsoft-based phones (Windows Mobile and Windows Phone) declined last fall even as the new Windows Phone 7 became available. The figures: 5.9 million in October, 5.5 million in November, and 5.3 million in December.

Mango Update Coming Later This Year — 7 Great Features

Still, Microsoft has deep pockets and nothing to lose. And last week's event for developers showed that Microsoft is intent on providing a great user experience on mobile devices.

While the event was focused on introducing developers to new technologies they can include in their apps, it also gave consumers a glimpse of some of the exciting things coming up when the software is released later this year (or possibly even early next year, according to some).

Engadet has posted a video that outlines the new features that are coming. PocketNow has a post titled Seven Great New Features of Mango for Windows Phone 7 that points to the video and conveniently summarizes the main points. (Also, be sure to check out the extended discussion on PocketNow.)

The features include animated Live Tiles, custom ringtones, system-wide performance enhancements, browser improvements that include background streaming and ramped-up performance, greatly improved Marketplace search results, and more.

Ben.Geek and PocketNow have posts that mention additional features, including multitasking, software features that will enable augmented reality, XNA/Silverlight integration, and more.

Augmented reality is pretty cool: You view a live image onscreen via your camera, and context-relevant information is superimposed on that image.

Internet Explorer 9 Coming in Mango

One of the more anticipated features of Mango will be Internet Explorer 9, which will be more robust, with new features and much greater speed. A demo of IE9 at last week's event shows that accessing the Internet via Windows Phone with Mango will be much faster than both the iPhone and Android devices.

Demo of New Features

Also last week Microsoft exec Joe Belfiore demoed some of the new features of Windows Phone that can be expected. Some of the features he shows in the video include multitasking, live agents, a cool demo of the Layar app that offers augmented reality, and more.

Speaking of multitasking, WMPoweruser explains how Microsoft is avoiding the performance problems that plagued Windows Mobile by constraining the ways that developers can implement it in Mango. This will increase battery life, speed, and stability.

Missing Features in Mango

Despite the excitement over Mango, PocketNow lists some features that are missing, though acknowledging that Microsoft may yet announce them.

Skype Coming to Windows Phone

In addition to the excitement surrounding Mango last week, Engadget posted the welcome news that Microsoft and Skype are working on a version of the software for Windows Phone. It's a good sign that Skype has reversed their stance after earlier saying they had no plans to bring it to this platform.

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