Microsoft as begun rolling out the version 7.5 "Mango" update to its Phone 7 OS – but only 10 per cent of the user base will be getting it at first.
Redmond is staggering the launch, with those 10 per cent of customers getting the update this Tuesday, and another 15 per cent within the next two weeks. In all, 98 per cent of users should have it on their handsets by the end of October, which Microsoft says will give it time to sort out any bugs that crop up when people upgrade, and will let phone operators tweek the OS to fit their handset configurations.
“We’re not just delivering our new operating system but also new software supplied by individual handset makers,” writes Eric Hautala, general manager of Redmond’s customer experience engineering. “This 'firmware' is necessary so your phone – and apps – work with all the features of Windows Phone 7.5. But it essentially means that we’re supplying not just one update, but many different ones, given the variety of Windows Phones and carriers out there to choose from.”
Microsoft hopes Mango will help its goal of being number three in the mobile OS market. The update, which uses the Metro interface that will be the basis of Windows 8, touts itself as supporting full multitasking without the battery drain. It also has tighter integration with the Bing search engine, with a ‘local scout’ function for location-based selling, IE9 as a mobile browser, and better social-networking integration. Voice recognition and translation in five languages has also been added.
There are, however, plenty of other features that can be used only if the network operators let you. The most desirable, enabling the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five users, is likely to come at a hefty fee from many providers. Since Microsoft is making much of how closely they want to work with operators, don’t expect Redmond to side with the user any time soon on this one.
HTC and Samsung are already producing Phone 7.5 handsets, with Nokia’s contributions coming – but a sacking offence to mention it seems. Microsoft has also used the update to announce three new hardware partners: ZTE, Fujitsu and Acer. They may hardly be considered giants of the mobile telephony world, but Microsoft needs all the support it can get. ®