Windows Phone 7 users can expect a wide variety of applications, including Angry Birds and Internet Explorer 9, to arrive on their devices over the next few months. The software's next update, code-named "Mango," will also introduce augmented reality features to the smartphones' cameras.
While Mango's ultimate release date remains unclear, Angry Birds will apparently make an appearance in May, according to Microsoft. Skype and a Spotify music application will roll out in an autumn timeframe. Mango introduces Windows Phone 7's version of multitasking, allowing smartphones to download new applications and content in the background, and stream music via one application while working in another. It will also feature the faster Internet Explorer 9.
Microsoft is using its MIX11 conference in Vegas to position the Windows Phone 7 platform as a viable one for both customers and developers, despite lagging relatively far behind Google, Research In Motion and Apple in market share.
As part of that, Microsoft is prepping developers for the May release of the updated Windows Phone Developer Tools, which will theoretically allow for the creation of more integrated and high-performance applications. Platform features include application multitasking for background processing, audio and file transfer, and fast application processing, as well as the ability to leverage augmented reality experiences.
A Microsoft executive also offered something of an apology for delays in delivering Windows Phone 7's February and March updates.
"We felt it would be better to be a little bit patient, make sure that when we get updates out that they would happen reliably, and, unfortunately, that caused a delay in getting things out," Joe Belfiore, director of Windows Phone program management, told the audience during his keynote, according to a Reuters posting. However, he apparently seemed positive about the prospect of coming updates such as Mango.
According to a handy chart released by Microsoft, all Windows Phone 7 devices in the United States are currently in the testing or delivery phases of the February and March updates. However, both these phases can take some time, and a percentage of users may need to wait weeks to obtain features such as faster application loading and cut-and-paste.
Although the number of consumers actually using Windows Phone 7 devices remains unclear, Microsoft is positioning the platform as healthy thanks to developer interest. A March 30 posting on The Windows Phone Developer Blog offered numbers that supposedly speak to that viability, including 1.5 million downloads of the Windows Phone Developer Tools and a 36,000-member-strong Windows Phone Developer community.
Recent numbers from analytics firm comScore suggest that Microsoft's share of the smartphone market-which includes both Windows Phone 7 and the antiquated Windows Mobile-dipped to 7.7 percent for the three months ending in February, placing it behind Google Android, Apple's iOS and RIM's BlackBerry.