Windows Phone

10 reasons why Microsoft Mango may be a game changer

The Mango update to the Windows Phone 7 platform -- which is expected to be out this fall -- promises a number of improvements. A big number, in fact: 500+.

Even though the Windows Phone 7 operating system is a huge improvement over previous versions of Windows Mobile, Microsoft really missed the mark in several areas. Thankfully, many of these issues are going to be addressed in a forthcoming update, which Microsoft has dubbed Mango (aka Windows Phone 7.5). According to Microsoft, Mango will include more than 500 new features (many of which have not yet been announced), so it is impossible to talk about all of them within the confines of an article. But I did want to discuss 10 reasons why Mango is worth paying attention to.

1: Social networking features

Windows Phone 7 was nice, in that it offered built-in Facebook integration. However, this integration was limited. You could view and post to your friends' walls, and you could post status updates, but that was about it. Mango improves upon the Facebook integration and offers many other new social networking capabilities, including integration for Twitter and Linked-In, Facebook check-ins, photo tagging, face detection, Facebook chat, and even verbal SMS text messaging.

2: Multitasking

When Windows Phone 7 was first released, one of the biggest complaints that industry analyst raised was that the phone did not offer multitasking. Microsoft is going to allow multitasking in Mango, but in a limited way. In the interest of preserving battery life, not every application will be allowed to run in the background. However, certain services (such as music) will be able to run in the background while the user is working on other things. Users will also be able to switch back and forth between applications without losing the application's current state.

3: A desktop-worthy browser

One of the worst things about Windows Mobile has been the built-in Web browser. Internet Explorer Mobile has always had a hard time rendering all but the simplest Web pages. I have owned a Windows Phone 7 device since it was first made available, and I can tell you that the version of Internet Explorer Mobile that is included with it is a huge improvement over what was previously available. But it isn't perfect. I have run into a few Web pages that are not displayed correctly.

Mango will be the first Windows Mobile release to include a desktop browser. The version of Internet Explorer 9 that will ship with Mango is allegedly identical to the desktop version.

4: Live tiles

The Windows Phone 7 Start screen is filled with live tiles, which are designed to convey information through that screen. For example, live tiles currently show you how many phone calls you have missed and how many email messages you have waiting. Microsoft also uses live tiles to show elements from your photo and music collection, as well as head shots of your contacts.

Live tiles seem to be a good idea, but Microsoft uses them somewhat sparingly and has yet to open them to third-party developers. This is going to change in Mango. In a recent demo, I saw flight status updates conveyed in real time through a live tile. Another live tile displayed the weather forecast. It should be interesting to see what other creative uses developers will find for live tiles.

5: Cloud support

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Microsoft's latest flagship product is the Office 365 cloud service. As one would expect, Mango adds the ability for the phone to interact with Office 365. In addition, Mango improves upon the Sky Drive and SharePoint integration found in the original Windows Phone 7 release.

6: Group messaging

One of my favorite new features that Mango will offer is something called Group Messaging, which allows you to create distribution lists on your Windows phone. You can then send email messages or SMS text messages to a group of people.

7: Bing makeover

The Bing search engine that is built into Windows Phone 7 is surprisingly good, but it is going to be vastly improved in Mango with the addition of Bing Audio and Bing Vision. Bing Audio will allow the phone to identify songs just by listening to them (similar to the way that Shazam works). Bing Vision will make it possible to use the device's camera to perform various types of searches. I recently saw a demo in which someone snapped a photograph of a book and Bing was able to locate the book on Amazon. It will also be possible to use Bing Vision to scan barcodes, Microsoft Tags, and text. Rumor has it that Bing Vision will even be able to identify CDs and DVDs.

8: IRM support

One thing that has long been missing from mobile platforms is the ability to open Information Rights Management (IRM) protected content. Mango will allow users to open IRM-protected email messages and Microsoft Office documents.

9: Stronger password support

Right now, Windows Phone 7 passwords are something of a joke. If you want to lock the device, you're limited to using a four-digit PIN. Mango will improve security by supporting the use of complex alphanumeric passwords.

10: Numerous email improvements

One thing I liked about the original Windows Phone 7 release was its ability to set up multiple email accounts. Aside from that and a new touchscreen interface, however, Outlook Mobile remained largely unchanged from previous versions. Mango is going to offer several improvements to Outlook Mobile, including conversation view and the ability to pin an individual email folder to the Start screen. More important, Mango will let you search the mail server for old messages that are not stored locally on the phone.

Additional resources

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

16 comments
sterghe
sterghe

subject line says it all ... Microsoft hasn't sold me with this one.

Chief Bottle Washer
Chief Bottle Washer

Steve Balmer is a bean counter and not a software developer. That said Mango is way too late to the game. M$ Corp needs to reboot - from the top down!

rahn
rahn

Is there anything here that is really a "game changer"? Guess I must of missed it somewhere...

binodr
binodr

After going through the article, I felt it is written by someone who never touched an iphone/android phone. It should have had some comparitive analysis also. Otherwise it is just new terms. For example, they use 'live tiles' instead of 'widgets'. what about Goggles in android. Come on, there is nothing new.

DalyDose
DalyDose

I'm enjoying the Mango experience so far on my developer unlocked Samsung Focus. I love all of the big advertised improvements including the People Hub, multi-tasking, the camera/photo hub, etc. Most impressive to is that there are little things that don't get written about. One of my favorites happened to me today. I had my headset on listening to a podcast and a text came in. The phone gave me a voice alert that an incoming message was waiting for me. It then asked if I wanted it read to me or if I wanted to ignore it. I said "read" and it was read to me. I was then given the option to be "done" or to "respond" which I did...by voice. The voice to text was accurate too. Small touch and attention to detail in the execution and I was wowed.

jfreedle2
jfreedle2

I am looking forward to the update when it is released this fall. I knew that the Windows Phone 7 platform is the future of mobile platforms when I first saw the platform. Now that I have had the last eight months to use the platform, I am even more pleased that I have been using the phone with a future, unlike Android and iPhone.

realvarezm
realvarezm

Sounds like Android or iphone but less worked. Sadly looks like MS lost this battle, in my humble opinion, everything exposed in this article is already working one way or another in both leading mobile platform, except for the 365 office and bing (which sucks) it will be interesting to see how MS will overcome this panorama and become leader or at least get a decent piece of the mobile os market. Good luck!

Jaytmoon
Jaytmoon

Wish ms would take some interest in updating wm 6.1 os to some newer features. b4 I move to an android or iphone just for that reason, no updates or apps.

emoyer
emoyer

According to that aforementioned article it says on 25 will be released with this version. I hate to say this but I think Microsoft is too late to the party to be the star. They don't offer the wow factor their competitors do.

richard.warren
richard.warren

I'm hoping Mango offers additional power options including an option to remain on when externally powered. When I've got my Samsung Focus in a cradle on my car dash, plugged into power, I'd actually like to be able to see those live tiles without having to fuss with the phone. Only my GPS navigation app keeps the phone alive now and, with power available, I'd really like to be able to set that option.

BSHcow
BSHcow

The biggest road block we faced when trying to get users to move from IPhones was the lack of visual voicemail. Any word on this being added in Mango?

DalyDose
DalyDose

Do you even use Bing? I go between search engines and I find Bing to be at least on par with Google. Bing has visual search on mobile now. Bing has (faster than) Shazam style music search by 'listening'. By the way, the other platforms DO have Bing, they just need an app. Bing also happens to be very popular and highly rated in the iPhone App Store. Have you ever touched a Windows Phone? Everything listed in the article is NOT working "in both leading mobile platforms". They don't have live tiles, they don't have the social networking integration...they need endless "apps for that". They don't have the IRM. It's OK to not like something, but please think before making such huge and false statements.

murali.nambiar
murali.nambiar

Well, i have been using an android based Wildfire, and cant say it was a great experience. It looks like android is only meant for geeks. One needs to download apps for even the smallest of tasks.. This is one area with Microsoft will certainly score over android.. And by past experiences, MS always manages to catch up with rivals in the long run

Badge3832
Badge3832

"when trying to get users to move from IPhones" One might wonder why they were trying to get users to move from iPhones, but that's the history of MS dominance. Whole companies get pushed toward MS products by management. It's true that this time there's a whole consumer-driven non-MS ecosystem they need to overcome. I'm not sure I'd bet against them, though.

realvarezm
realvarezm

So DalyDose did you read the latest article? Your beloved microsoft is bullying Samsung? People like you disgust me! People like you, slow down the evolution on IT technologies. You are so afraid of trying something new. That every time you see a new concept or technology not develop by MS, you are biased against it. So you don???t enjoy the full experience of that software or product. Remember the rainbow is beautiful because is compose of many colors, not only red or MS. I mean if you are paid by this people well is another history, cause money make almost everybody blind, hell it even has capability to silence truth for a while. Cheers and keep enjoying the MS experience!