Microsoft has finally released its new and highly-anticipated Windows 7 Phone upgrade, Mango. It’s being rolled out across existing Windows Phone handsets as we speak, and it’s expected to be completed in a couple of weeks
There’s a lot riding on Mango for Microsoft, and with Android being developed at a fearsome rate, and a brand spanking new iPhone seemingly weeks away, the software giant has its work cut out.
We run through the new Windows Phone 7.5 Mango updates and find out whether the fruits of Microsoft’s efforts are rotten apples or top banana.
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango offers 500 updates to the existing version of Windows Phone, and is the first upgrade to the operating system that was released back in October last year.
While some of these include wholesale changes to the operating system, many are simply under-the-hood tweaks to the operating system, and as you go down the list, this epic list of major upgrades soon becomes inconsequential.
Just like Apple’s roll outs of iOS upgrades, Mango is available for all handsets, so anyone who has invested into Microsoft’s foray into mobile, and kept the faith, will be rewarded with a more usable operating system.
If you have multiple conversations across SMS, Facebook and other media, then Windows Phone 7.5 aims to bring these together into one place. It works sporadically with some Facebook messages simply not appearing in our message thread. With the effort required to set it up, we’re not sure that seamless conversations will have their day on Windows Phone quite yet.
Mango :Internet Sharing
A neat new feature in Windows Phone 7.5 is internet tethering, where you can create an open network from your handset, and use it like a 3G router. You need to check whether your network allows it. It works well, and we were easily able to connect a tablet to our ad-hoc 3G network, which could have real benefits when on the move.
Mango Hands-free messaging
Hands free texting enables you to speak messages instead of typing, which is great for driving, or looking like a crazy when you’re out and about. It’s a cool feature, which is nicely implemented into the message app and Bing search. However, the recognition is total rubbish, and left us itching to type short phrases in manually, and seems that it still needs a lot of work.
Mango brings multitasking to Windows Phone for the first time, and this is great new feature. Hold the back button, and you can slide between previewed windows, much like in Safari on the iPhone. It’s a weird mash up and reminiscent of WebOS and its multitasking ‘cards’ and not only brings Windows Phone bang up to date, but the is the slickest smartphone multitasking we’ve seen.
Mango: Improved integration
Integration is another huge part of Mango, and has kept Windows Phone 7 in the race. Instead of having a Facebook app, Mango takes Facebook information and populates your phone with it. You’ll find your calendar is full of Facebook events, and these are posted as a Live Tile, so you can clearly see what’s on your social agenda as soon as you turn on your phone, and we have to say this is one of our favourite Windows Phone features.
Microsoft is putting its whole weight being the new version of IE, and Mango gets some treatment as well. The aim is to outperform Apple by supporting rich web experiences and HTML 5, which is a great addition for the future, and rendered pages the iPhone would ignore seamlessly. We’re big fans of the browser, but we really wish Microsoft had given control of the search hotkey to users, instead of insisting that it be powered by Bing.
We had an early version of Mango, and did experience some reliability issues, with the phone restarting, which we’re sure will be ironed out for the final release.
The multitasking worked well, and we were quickly able to switch between windows, quickly and easily.
IE9 brings all that web support to Windows Phone, we found rendering performance to be really good as well. This is a real plus point for Windows Phone, and even Android devices struggle. Pinching and zooming was really intuitive, and text looked great even on full zoom.
Windows Phone 7 Mango verdict:
IE9 aside however, we really feel that this update is treading water. There’s very little new here, and nothing that would make us demand that you go out and buy a Windows Phone today.
However, a quick browse of any phone store shows how good value Windows Phones have become, and what Mango represents is Microsoft’s commitment to this operating system. If you’re looking for a great value smartphone, you’ll get a pleasant surprise.
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: Out now as a free upgrade to Windows Phone owners, and available on all new handsets.