Microsoft's Terry Myerson says the company has released the Mango version of its Windows Phone to mobile handset manufacturers and carriers, who will preinstall it on new smartphones. Nokia has been waiting for Mango to appear before launching WP7 products, but the first to be publicly unveiled will be the Toshiba-Fujitsu IS12T, which is being shown at a press conference in Tokyo at 10am on Wednesday. Owners of current Windows Phones will be able to upgrade in the fall.
Mango's RTM (Release To Manufacturing) was announced on the Windows Phone Blog, where Myerson said it included "hundreds of new features that create a smarter and easier approach to communications and apps, while delivering the best web experience". His favourite features included a "unique new email Conversation View", Threads that combine SMS texts with Windows Live instant messages and Facebook Chat, app multitasking, and "Internet Explorer 9 for fast web browsing and support for new HTML 5 web sites". The HTML5 rendering has hardware acceleration.
Other new features in version 7.5 include Twitter and LinkedIn integration, a unified mailbox for multiple email accounts, people tagging in photos, support for Facebook Places check-ins, Silverlight 4 compatibility, and support for private applications.
Mango also provides a more versatile speech interface, which enables users to run applications, search Bing, send text messages (using speech-to-text conversion) and so on. This enables hands-free operation, and it also works with a Bluetooth headset. However, Mango is still missing a few speech interface features that were present in Windows Mobile 2003.
The previous update, codenamed NoDo, was subject to numerous delays. This prompted Microsoft to post Phone updates: process and timing, explaining what went on. The post said:
"We’re not satisfied when problems prevent you from enjoying the latest Windows Phone updates. When we find an issue, we study and fix it. To that end, we’re carefully studying the current update process and will apply the lessons learned from it to all future ones. This is how we get better."
Windows Phone 7 owners will be hoping Microsoft has indeed fixed it this time.