Windows Phone 'Tango' to be Microsoft's lower price-point operating system?

Information about Microsoft's successor to Windows Phone OS Mango (codenamed Tango) is slowly starting to leak.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Until today, I've said nothing on my blog about Tango -- the Windows Phone operating system release supposedly slated to arrive after Mango but before "Apollo" (Windows Phone 8). The reason? I couldn't find any of my trusted contacts who had heard of Tango.

But after an alleged Tango screen shot leaked late last week (which I first saw via WPCentral.com), word of the next Windows Phone OS update is slowly percolating through my network.

Digitimes first mentioned Tango in June 2011, citing an official with OEM Compal who mentioned Mango and its follow-on, Tango. Some were speculating that Mango would be Windows Phone OS 7.1 and Tango, 7.5. However, more recently, we've learned that while the Mango OS is version 7.1, the Mango phone handsets are what will be labeled as 7.5. So it's somewhat murky as to whether Tango actually will be labeled as Windows Phone OS 7.5 or not.

Microsoft isn't talking about anything post-Mango and, as usual, is none too keen on commenting on codenames. Mango only recently was released to manufacturing. But a couple of my sources are now saying that Tango is real and it is, indeed, the next version of Windows Phone OS.

One of my contacts who asked to remain anonymous said he believed there would be at least one and maybe two Tango releases hitting before the Windows Phone 8 Apollo release. He said Tango was "all about Nokia" and focused on hitting the lower-price point for Windows Phones that Microsoft and Nokia execs have been promising. My contact also said the Tango release may be focused largely or even exclusively on the Asian market.

Another of my contacts said that Tango and SeaRay (the codename for Nokia's expected first Windows Phone) are often mentioned in the same breath. But Tango is an operating system update and not a handset, said the contact who asked for anonymity, said. (SeaRay is expected to be running Mango when it debuts, most likely later this year.)

The Windows Phone team's plan seemingly is to deliver one major operating system update per year. That's making me think Tango is likely considered a more minor release, given that Apollo/Windows Phone 8, is (last I heard) a late 2012 deliverable. By the way, Microsoft execs also have said that, at least for now, all Windows Phone OS codenames end in the letter "O" (hence NoDo, Mango, Apollo).

In other Windows Phone news, 21-year Microsoft veteran Charlie Kindel --  who most recently was Windows Phone General Manager in charge of the Developer Experience -- is leaving Microsoft to found a Seattle area startup. Kindel's replacement is Matt Bencke, who has been in that role for a number of months. Kindel said he had been working on special projects related to Windows Phone and the cloud (none of which he can talk about) over the past few months, while figuring out what he wanted to do next.

Back to Tango: Anyone out there have more details (like operating system version number, release date, target market) for Microsoft's next Windows Phone OS update?

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