Microsoft broadens its mobile appeal

New Mango OS update boasts 500 new features including native social networking apps


Microsoft has revealed its latest Windows 7 update, code-named Mango, at a launch event held in Dubai.

The new update features more than 500 new features and will be available for free to Windows Phone 7 customers from September this year. The Mango update will also be shipping on all new phones from the same time.

Gustavo Fuchs, director Mobility, Microsoft Middle East and Africa said the Windows Phone operating system has so far received great feedback from customers in the seven months since it has been released.

"Ninety percent of people are extremely pleased with the product, 93% of people recommend the product to colleagues and family and the return rates on the smartphones are very, very low, which we know is not a common practice in the market," he said.

The new Mango update promises to build on that popularity with popular social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn built into the phones DNA as native apps.

"We don't want you to have a sea of icons and a sea of applications that are tough to navigate and for you to have to go from one place to another to access information. We want you to access information that will work for you," said Fuchs.

Users will also be able to group together contacts from multiple sources, such as Facebook and Gmail and a user can text all these contacts at the same time.

The phones allow users to switch between text, Facebook chat and Windows Live Messenger in the same conversation. Photo tagging and face-recognition is also enabled on the Mango update, allowing users to communicate on the go.

"Today people have got to a point where you do everything with your phone. Some people are tweeting with their phone, some people are posting on Facebook, but the reality is that people are doing things that are not conventional, they are checking into places; some good places, some not that good, but they are showing this to people, they are tagging pictures on their phone and communicating on their phone, but the biggest challenge we see around is that the phones are not prepared for that, the Windows Phone is going to be the first phone that enables you to be always connected across those experiences," Fuchs said.

The update also allows users to multi-task, hopping between apps by holding the phones back button.

Microsoft has also incorporated corporate messenger for enterprise clients, so they too can keep communicating on the go.

The Windows Phone application marketplace now has 17,000 apps with more being added on a weekly basis. Before an app is added to the Marketplace it goes through strict controls to ensure there are no viruses or bugs in the system and that the app is user friendly. Once an app has been submitted for approval it takes up to four days for approval to be confirmed.

Microsoft has also expanded its partner programme for the Mango update, bringing in Acer, Fujitsu and ZTE to make the Mango phones, which should bring cheaper options to the market. They will be joining HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell, who already manufacture Windows Phones.

The refreshed OS features a brand new version of Internet Explorer, which Microsoft says is exactly the same as the version that runs on PCs.

For users outside the Middle East, the Mango OS has Xbox Live which allows users to play Xbox games and keep in touch with their friends. Xbox Live is said to be heading to the Middle East within the next 12 months.

Currently the new OS does not support Arabic but apps are available for Arabic content.

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