Posted by:Monica Samuel October 5th, 2011

Microsoft may be the world’s top operating system developer for PCs but as far as mobile devices go, it hasn’t made its mark. Windows Phone has been around for quite a while but has very few fans. According to Gartner’s analysis of global Q2 2011 smartphone sales, US market share of mobile operating systems is Android (43%), Symbian (22%), iOS (18%), BlackBerry (12%), Others (3%) and finally Windows Phone (2%). The numbers speak for themselves.

Windows Phone Mango (technically Windows Phone 7.5), Microsoft’s latest OS version for smartphones is expected to change these stats. The OS supposedly has 500 new features over Windows Phone 7. Many of these are minor but a few others are significant, even ahead of competition. They include:

  • Quick cards and Bing: Derek Snyder, Microsoft product marketing manager, describes this feature as a ‘blurring’ of internet search and apps. Search for an item on Bing (say, a movie name) and you will get a quick card with synopsis and reviews, along with relevant apps on the smartphone. Select one of the apps, say IMDB, and it will open the film database on the page of the selected movie. Bing also supports visual search (say, the image of a book).
  • Improved browsing with Internet Explorer 9: Microsoft Mango includes a desktop version of IE 9 with blazing browser speed. In tests of HTML 5 loading, Windows Phone Mango was clearly ahead of iPhone, Android handsets, and BlackBerry.
  • Enterprise support: Windows Phone Mango supports protected messages that cannot be forwarded or opened in any other phone except that of the receiver. Meeting requests via email link to the receiver’s calendar, bringing up the day and time for scheduling.
  • Applications: Windows Phone Mango supports voice and video service with Skype. There’s also an updated version of Office Suite with new versions of Excel, One Note, PowerPoint and other apps. The OS supports Office 365 and is the first to offer Xbox Live Gaming capability, right from the home screen.
  • Multiple languages support: Microsoft plans to make Windows Phone Mango accessible to a global audience via its hardware partners. The OS, therefore, supports multiple languages including Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Swedish.
  • Other features: Other mentionable features of Mango include arranging emails in ‘conversation view’ for easy tracking and follow up; multi-tasking; a ‘threads’ feature that brings text messages, instant messages, and Facebook chats in one place; custom ring tones (this may not sound like much but earlier Windows Phones were missing this); Twitter and Linkedin integration into UI; one hub for all email inboxes; music search and voice search; Local Scout app similar to Foursquare; Marketplace; and loads more.
The Windows Phone Mango update started rolling out on September 27 and will reach existing Windows Phone handsets over the next few weeks. The previews have been good. If existing smartphone owners are not tempted to switch to Windows Phone Mango, at least new smartphone shoppers will give Mango handsets a serious look.

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