Detangling the Windows Phone Tango talk

Summary:There is a new report about features and markets that will be the target of Microsoft's Windows Phone Tango, the successor to Mango. Here's my take.

Even though the Windows Phone Mango operating system is still not in consumers' hands or phones, talk has turned to the next version of the OS, codenamed "Tango."

I blogged earlier this month about what I was hearing from my sources about Tango. In short, my contacts said that Tango would be a minor release (or two) that would target lower-cost phones and be geared, in particular, to address the Asian market. I heard that Nokia would be heavily involved in Tango -- not surprising, given Nokia's focus on broadening the smartphone market to include current feature phone users. Tango would hit some time before Apollo, the Windows Phone 8 release, my contacts said. (Apollo, last I heard, is due in late 2012.)

This week, a report about Tango originating from the "We Love Windows Phone" site in Hong Kong -- which I saw via The Next Web -- echoed this same information. The original site claimed to have attended an MSDN Hong Kong seminar about the next generation in development where this information allegedly was disclosed.

The translated version of the Hong Kong site's Tango information:

1. Tango is not a major update. 2. Tango Mango will be included as one of the updates. 3. Apollo will be the next major update. 4. Tango primarily for and developing countries such as China, India and other markets use, these are ignored in the market to have more exposure to Bing services. 5. Manufacturers of these developing countries will launch a cheap version of Tango preloaded Windows Phone.

The "Tango Mango" bit is definitely confusing. But I think I can help detangle it a bit, based on some additional Tango information I've gleaned from my contacts.

I've heard there are, indeed, two Tango releases on tap. One of these is simply a minor update to Mango. (I'm betting this is the "Tango Mango" reference above.) This minor update, Tango1, is the release aimed at expanding the Windows Phone footprint into new markets that are not going to be addressed right off the bat by Mango.

Windows Phone 7s currently support English (US and UK), French, German, Italian, and Spanish. The Mango release is adding support for 17 more languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian (Bokmål), Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Swedish. So Tango1 will likely add support for additional languages beyond this group.

Tango2, my tipsters say, is the version that will be targeted at low-cost devices and include fixes and new features, as well as services and language support for markets that still won't have been addressed after the Tango1 release.

Is Tango1 a 2011 deliverable? Early 2012? I have no information on dates yet. (Anyone else?)

One more thing: I've seen some Microsoft watchers speculating that Tango will result in a fragmented Windows Phone market because it will offer users a stripped-down feature set. I don't believe this necessarily will be the case. Lower cost devices in this case will still be smartphones -- not feature phones -- I believe. Remember: Microsoft's original Windows Phone plan called for the company winning over feature phone users to smartphones for growth.

I've asked Microsoft for comment on the latest Tango report, but am thinking it's unlikely there will be anything beyond a no comment. In any case, I'll update if and when I hear back....

Meanwhile, what else are you hearing/wishing for with Windows Phone Tango?

Updates:

1. As anticipated, Microsoft is not willing to talk Tango. A spokesperson sent me the following response to my query: "There is a lot to be excited about and we look forward to sharing more information soon.”

2. The MSDN seminar in Hong Kong cited by the original source of this week's Tango information looks legit. Here's a link to it.

3. I'm wondering if Tango1 is already part of Mango (or will be added seamlessly to Mango as phones roll out this year. When I used Bing Translator on the original post, instead of "Tango Mango," I got "Tango will include Mango, one of the update."  Hmmm.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Telcos, 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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