Talking tech since 2003

It seems that “Mango”, the latest version of Microsoft’s recently revamped Windows Mobile operating system for mobile phones, is just around the corner.  This week we’ve seen news that manufacturers have received a copy of the operating system that has been confirmed to be close to the final release.  On top of the debut of the release candidate we’ve seen the curtains lifted from Fujitsu Toshiba’s upcoming “IS12T” smartphone; the first Mango-sporting handset to hit the public eye.  With a 13.2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and 32 gigabytes of memory on a 3.7″ touch-screen display, I must say that Fujitsu’s latest offering really does pack a punch.  And after seeing some of the new features in the operating system, I must say that it does indeed look incredibly tempting.

All that said, I really am wondering how well things will go over with this release.  As much as I’d like to think that Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system ride a successful release, the rational part of me realizes that I felt this way about the last release of the Windows Phone, which promised to bridge Microsoft’s presence in the consumer mobile industry after focusing on predominantly business-type functionality in the past.  This time around though, I think Microsoft has a much better chance.

You see, when Windows Phone 7 made its way to the market last year, Microsoft hadn’t established much consumer faith in the mobile market because of the fact that they had served business needs for so long all whilst arguably neglecting the needs and wants of regular consumers.  And while it wasn’t a huge hit, skeptics of the Windows Phone product line who observed the success of the release were able to see that Microsoft did indeed make a very user-friendly and functional operating system.

In short, the fact that “Mango” is simply a code name for “Windows Phone 7.5” means that users don’t have to worry about being guinea pigs for a “.0” release.  And I think this will make people more willing to adapt Windows Phone 7.5.

In terms of features, I’m really impressed to see that the new release will include a mobile version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9.  Yes, I’m still really skeptical of Internet Explorer on the PC side and must say that there are several better options for desktop browsers.  At the same time, I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t impressed with IE9’s improvements that finally allow it to render more “advanced” pages in a more standardized fashion.

So to see this browser on a mobile operating system really does seem impressive to me.   Of course I realize that when all is said and done the mobile version of IE9 likely won’t be anything better than Safari on iOS, but I think that a solid browser is definitely a good foundation for the OS.

After looking at the demonstration video earlier today, the one thing that I really think that Mango has got going for it is the depth in which applications integrate with the operating system itself.  Whereas iOS applications can only be accessed via the main icon itself, Mango-ready applications have the ability to pin shortcuts to specific portions of the application onto the main screen.  This gives users quick and easy access to things they’re keeping an eye on (in the video an example is shown where a user pins stock availability for a television set onto his home screen).

But while I think this is great, I honestly have to question how many scenarios this type of feature can really be utilized in.  I mean, iOS and Android already have notification systems that can accomplish the same fundamental task, and the upcoming iOS 5 release is going to be sporting a new notification center that I honestly think will be better than what Mango is offering.

Moreover, seeing as how it’s not a secret that the Windows Phone platform isn’t attracting developers, part of me has to question if there are even going to be enough applications that take advantage of such functionality.

When all is said and done, though, I must say that I really like what I’ve seen in Windows Phone 7.5.  It really does look like an improved OS, and I think that it has the potential to get some really good traction.

What intrigues me is the fact that Mango devices are estimated to hit the market in September; the same month that many believe the iPhone 5 (or the update iPhone 4) will be announced and released.  What does this mean?  Sadly, I think it means that Mango will get overlooked with all of the iPhone hype at the time, and that consumers simply won’t give it the time of day; something that is really sad for a greatly improved operating system.

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