Microsoft's week saw Windows Phone reach its release-to-manufacturing milestone and a renewal of its long-term SUSE inoperability agreement.
this week centered on its coming Windows Phone update code-named "Mango."
hopes that Mango's 500 new tweaks will help Windows Phone more firmly establish
itself in a highly competitive smartphone market. In addition to a redesigned
Xbox Live Hub, some of the more visible Mango features include home-screen
tiles capable of displaying up-to-the-minute information, the ability to
consolidate friends and colleagues into groups, and visual voice mail.
its release-to-manufacturing milestone July 26. "Earlier this morning, the
Windows Phone development team officially signed off on the release to
manufacturing (RTM) build of -Mango'-the latest version of the Windows Phone
operating system," Microsoft executive Terry Myerson wrote in a posting on The Windows Blog
. "Here on the Windows Phone
team, we now turn to preparing for the update process."
offer a definitive release date for Mango, although other Microsoft executives
have cited a fall timeframe. Previous Windows Phone updates encountered delays
and complaints of stalled or "bricked" devices, forcing Microsoft into damage-control mode
experience the company almost certainly doesn't want to
been reluctant to share any hard sales data related to Windows Phone. During a
July 11 keynote speech at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference, CEO Steve
Ballmer described the platform's market share as "very small," but insisted
that other metrics (such as consumer satisfaction) bode well for Windows Phone
"Nine out of
10 people who bought Windows Phone would absolutely recommend it to a friend,"
he said, reiterating a talking point voiced by many a Microsoft executive over
the past few months. "People in the phone business seem to believe in us."
data from Nielsen suggests that Microsoft occupied some 9 percent of the U.S.
smartphone market in June. That total included the company's Windows Mobile
platform, which is being discontinued in favor of Windows Phone 7. It trailed
Google Android with 39 percent, Apple's iPhone with 28 percent, and Research In
Motion's BlackBerry franchise with 20 percent, but managed to surpass
Hewlett-Packard's WebOS (with 2 percent) and Nokia's Symbian OS (also with 2
other research firms have also suggested Microsoft holds a single-digit share
of the U.S. smartphone market. Research firm comScore, for instance, placed
Microsoft at 5.8 percent by the end of May, trailing Android at 38.1 percent,
Apple at 26.6 percent and RIM at 24.7 percent.
LG Electronics and Nokia have all committed to building new Windows Phone
devices preloaded with Mango, while Acer and ZTE have reportedly agreed to
produce Windows Phone units for release in the coming months.
Microsoft also issued the newest Windows Phone SDK 7.1 "Beta 2 Refresh" via the
Mango Connect Website. It includes a screenshot capability built into the
emulator, and locked-down application platform APIs. It also corresponds with
Build 7712, which, oddly enough, is not the release-to-manufacturing build
issued July 26.
"For the folks
wondering why we're not providing the -RTM' version, there are two reasons,"
Cliff Simpkins, a product manager for Windows Phone 7, wrote in a July 27
posting on The Windows Phone Developer Blog
. First, "the
phone OS and the tools are two equal parts of the developer toolkit that
correspond to one another." Second, "this OS is close enough to RTM that, as a
developer, it's more than capable to see you through the upcoming [Release
Candidate] drop of the tools and app submission."
Candidate tools, which developers can use to finalize their Mango-optimized applications
for Microsoft's App Hub storefront, will reportedly drop in late August.
Phone-related news, Microsoft and SUSE (an independent business unit of The
Attachmate Group) announced a four-year extension of the interoperability
agreement set almost five years ago between Redmond and Novell. Under the terms
of that agreement, Microsoft will invest some $100 million in new SUSE Linux
Enterprise certificates for customers who receive Linux support from SUSE.
agreement helped bridge the inevitable gap between proprietary and open-source
software. Attachmate previously acquired Novell, including its SUSE holdings.
The joint collaboration between Microsoft and SUSE has served some 725
customers worldwide, including financial-services and manufacturing
Microsoft also launched yet another broadside against Google, with a parodic "Gmail Man"
video that quickly went viral among
the tech community. The two companies battle in areas ranging from search
engines to smartphones.
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