Microsoft is ready to release a beta of its Windows Phone "Mango" operating system update to testers, possibly as soon as this week.
A number of blogs are reporting that Microsoft may release the beta bits as soon as June 22 or 23. I'm hearing from a couple of my contacts that the release is imminent.
Supposedly, according to one of my sources, Microsoft is going to make the Mango ROMs released to all regular developers (those who've paid the $99 fee to sign up). Regular developers will get Mango ROMs to flash on their registered, unlocked retail devices through the create.msdn.com portal, I hear.
If you're a developer who wants/needs access to next-generation hardware that Mango will support (with additions like gyroscopes), you'll have to contact your local evangelist and lobby to be one of the chosen few who will get loaner test devices.
When I asked a Microsoft spokesperson yesterday about its rumored beta build distribution plans, I received a no comment.
Microsoft already made Mango technical preview bits available to some reviewers under embargo. The embargo ended at midnight on June 21, and there are a number of reviews now available of the nearly-complete operating system update.
Mango is said to include 500 new features, including an HTML5-compliant IE browser, better SkyDrive integration, Bing improvements and more. Some of these are not yet fully baked in the beta, such as Twitter integration, as Windows Phone Secrets author Paul Thurrott notes.
Microsoft has said to expect new phones running Mango to be available in time for this holiday season. The company hasn't shed any light on how long it might take for existing Windows Phone 7 customers to get the Mango update pushed to them, following carrier and handset testing.
Update: Brandon Watson, the Director of Developer Experience for Windows Phone, tweeted this morning that the reviews are the only thing happening this week.
So maybe we are back to next week being the date for the beta availability of Mango. In any case, the beta is said to be coming, and coming soon....