As more Windows Phone 'Tango' info leaks, questions resurface

Summary:New leaks about the next version of the Windows Phone operating system make me wonder if the Tango1/Tango2 rumors from last year are going to prove true, after all.

I haven't blogged much recently about Windows Phone "Tango," the Windows Phone operating system release slated to follow "Mango" but precede "Apollo." The main reason is that since last summer, I haven't heard a whole lot about Tango.

But in the past week or so, new Tango information has begun leaking from a variety of sources.

Paul Thurrott posted an article on February 10 to the Windows SuperSite detailing more alleged Tango information from unnamed sources. Thurrott said Tango will likely be called Windows Phone 7.5.1 (indicating it is a minor update to the Mango handsets which are known as Windows Phone 7.5 -- running an operating system known as 7.1). He said Tango will be optimized for lower RAM requirements, and will support low-end Windows Phone handsets with just 256 MB of RAM, half of the 512 MB that is more common today. In addition, certain "resource-intensive background tasks" on Tango handsets will be disabled, Thurrott said.

More from his post:

"Developers will be able to target Tango or Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) going forward, or both, and users of the new low-end systems will basically be able to access a subset of the existing Windows Phone Marketplace apps selection. (That said, I'm also told that Tango users will be able to browse, but not download, incompatible apps....)"

On February 15, alleged Tango screen shots and information appeared on WMPoweruser.com (via WP7Forum.ru). The screen shots and details corroborated reports that Tango is an OS update targeted primarily at bringing Windows Phones to a new class of users in primarily developing countries.

But there's a new twist in WMPoweruser's info. Tango also may include some new features, like the ability to manage contacts directly on the SIM card and to export contacts to the SIM. This is to allow users to more easily transition from a feature phone to a smartphone. There will be more granular roaming settings, WMPoweruser said, and "users will be able to make multiple attachments to one MMS message, including pictures, sound and video."

The MMS multiple-attachment feature is one that would likely appeal to all Windows Phone users, not just those with low-end handsets. So if Microsoft is planning, as Thurrott has heard, to make Tango an update on low-end handsets only, and not universally across all WP handsets, existing Windows Phone users wouldn't get these new features.

Unless -- and this is just an attempt to piece together previous clues on my part -- Microsoft really is planning two different Tango updates, as originally rumored. Remember Tango1 was supposed to be "TangoMango" (according to a confusion translation of a tip from months back)? What if that means the new features coming to Tango go to all Mango handset users?  And Tango2 ends up being the update that is expressly for new low-end Windows Phones?

In any case, hopefully Microsoft officials will finally share more about the long-rumored Tango at the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) at the end of this month. And maybe even some tidbits on "Apollo," too, though I wouldn't be surprised if the Softies attempt to put the Apollo genie back in the bottle, at this point, so as not to dampen the market for the new generation of Mango phones due to hit in the next few months....

One more tidbit re: Tango from Thurrott's write-up that may be of interest to Windows Phone developers. Thurrott said in his write-up that a new version of the Windows Phone software development kit may be out by April 2012.

This new SDK "will let developers test apps on both 256 MB Tango devices and mainstream 512MB handsets in emulation. Developers can choose to opt out of Tango going forward if they'd like, though that might not be desirable if these devices sell as well as expected," he said.

OK... one more thing: Rumors have it that among the Nokia announcements at MWC will be a new low-end Lumia 610 Windows Phone handset running Tango.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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