Microsoft has formally launched the next major version of Windows Phone, which is being referred to by the release name Mango. According to Microsoft, as many as 500 features are being added to Windows Phone in this release, which definitely qualifies it as a major release, although at this time Microsoft has not disclosed the version number.
Perhaps the most notable of the new features for technical folks is the support of multitasking for some applications. I am hopeful that this means social media apps can update in the background so that when they are opened you see the most recent information without having to wait for a refresh. The multitasking capability also appears in improvements to Live Tiles, which will display different information via multiple views of the same tile.
Windows Phone 7 only has partial social media integration with Microsoft Live and Facebook, and the new version increases the amount of social media integration by including integration with Twitter and LinkedIn. Windows Phone will consolidate messages from the same person whether they come from Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, or text messaging, in one view. Internet Explorer 9 is included that supports HTML5, enabling Windows Phone users to make full use of social media web apps.
While Microsoft has announced software features, no new hardware has been shown, nor has a specific date been provided for Mango’s release, though I am sure Microsoft desires to have new phones running it available for purchase during the Christmas shopping season. No information has been provided about whether Mango will be provided for existing phones or whether existing Windows Phone owners can expect to see the upgrade for their phone by the end of the year.