Now that Microsoft's Windows Phone "Mango" update has reached the release-to-manufacturing milestone, the company's hardware partners need to ensure the enhanced software can play nicely with their next-generation devices. The consequences of a bumpy rollout are potentially dire for Windows Phone, which is struggling for market share against determined competitors such as Google Android and the Apple iPhone.
"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 July 26 posting on The Windows Blog. ""Here on the Windows Phone team, we now turn to preparing for the update process."
The blog posting doesn't offer a definitive release date for Mango, although executives have previously cited a fall timeframe. Microsoft doubtlessly hopes that pushing Mango onto users' devices will proceed far more smoothly than previous Windows Phone updates, which were marked by delays and complaints of stalled or "bricked" devices.
Despite Windows Phone's falling market share, Microsoft is determined to put a brave face on the platform's marketplace prospects. During a July 11 keynote speech at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference, CEO Steve Ballmer described that market share as "very small," but insisted that other metrics (such as consumer satisfaction) boded well for Windows Phone overall.
"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."
Nonetheless, for the three-month period between the end of February and the end of May, research firm comScore estimated Microsoft's U.S. share dipping from 7.7 percent to 5.8 percent. If accurate, that comes despite the marketing push behind the Windows Phone platform.
During that same timeframe, Google Android jumped from 33 percent to 38.1 percent of the market, and Apple rose slightly from 25.2 percent to 26.6 percent. Research In Motion slide from 28.9 percent to 24.7 percent.
Microsoft is also hoping that its deal with Nokia to port Windows Phone onto the latter's smartphones will translate into increased adoption, although the Finnish phone-maker's falling market share suggests an uphill battle in making that a reality.
Mango's new features include a redesigned Xbox Live Hub, home-screen tiles capable of displaying up-to-the-minute information, the ability to consolidate friends and colleagues into groups, and visual voicemail, for a grand total of 500 new elements in all. Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics and Nokia have all committed to building new Windows Phone devices preloaded with Mango, while Acer, Fujitsu and ZTE have reportedly agreed to produce Windows Phone units for the first time.