Windows Phone 7.5 Mango hands-on preview

By Michael Oryl on June 21, 2011, 1:30 AM

Last week Microsoft presented me with a Samsung Focus smartphone that was running a recent pre-release build of Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango." Mango is the version of the OS that will replace Windows Phone 7, which launched last year.

Windows Phone Mango brings many new things to Microsoft-powered smartphones, as you can see in the video below. From a messaging perspective, you'll find combined email inboxes, an improved messaging system that lets users switch between text, IM, and Facebook chat on the fly, and new integration of Twitter and LinkedIn into the social aspects of the People app. In this pre-release build I was testing, Twitter and LinkedIn support were missing.

Many other updates are found in the People app, including new group support for mass messaging and email as well as targeted social networking feeds. New check-in support has been added to the phone so that it is now easy to check-in at a restaurant or an event, and social networking photos (with face tagging) are also available within the People app. The Calendar has been updated to includes tasks from Exchange accounts and appointments from Facebook. I'll reserve final judgement for all of the new social features until after the final product ships, but so far, at least, Microsoft appears to be moving in the right direction.

Search has been extended all around with special handling of movies, products, and places. A new visual search tool can be used to identify items or read bar codes - or even translate text into different languages (think menus). Local Scout makes it easy to find nearby places to go for food, shopping, or entertainment. I've always been a fan of Bing, loving its clean look and organized content. Now things are even better.

The new, and much-hyped, task switching and multitasking features are very nice to have, and I'm looking forward to seeing new apps that take advantage of the background audio system and various other APIs that are being made available to developers. Users won't have access to pure multitasking in the Android sense, but what Microsoft is offering with Mango appears to be a step beyond what Apple offers in iOS. And that's more than enough multitasking for countless millions of consumers, if Apple's sales figures indicate anything.

Microsoft has really been touting the Internet Explorer 9 integration in Mango, with its HTML5 support, but users are also going to love the Smart DJ playlists that the Zune player can create, and gamers will approve of the 3D avatar support and Xbox Live messaging that has been added to the Games Hub. IE9 sounds great in theory, but I'm still not convinced that what we get from it is on par with the WebKit browsers offered by Android, iOS, and webOS. It's good (and very fast), but in a different way that just doesn't seem quite has handy on a mobile phone.

While Windows Phone will still not suit every potential smartphone user out there, I feel that the changes Microsoft has put into Mango go a long way towards filling any gaps that existed in the initial release of Windows Phone 7. The best part is that while Mango catches up with the other major smartphone operating systems, it still manages to remain true to itself. It's different, to be sure, but Microsoft's OS is beautiful, fast, and powerful as well.

You can get a look at all of these features and more by watching the video above. The Mango release of Windows Phone is expected to show up in devices this fall.

Michael Oryl is the Philadelphia-based owner and editor-in-chief of MobileBurn.com. MobileBurn focuses on cell phones, smartphones, tablets, and related hardware. Republished with permission.




User Comments: 16

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Guest said:

Very Fluid... not bad.

Guest said:

Did they finally loosen it up a little? Can we replace the horribly anemic ring tones and alert sounds with something that doesn't inspire a deep seated resentment the sounds of 8 bit video games?

backo said:

Looks really good!

treeski treeski said:

Guest said:

Did they finally loosen it up a little? Can we replace the horribly anemic ring tones and alert sounds with something that doesn't inspire a deep seated resentment the sounds of 8 bit video games?

MS has confirmed and previously demoed custom ringtones in the mango release. I'm not sure about custom alerts though.

Guest said:

Wow! Mango gets sweeter and sweeter by the day.

Great review!

Guest said:

Mango is a laxative... I'll pass on this one tho.

yRaz yRaz said:

It's a start

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They just need to release this ASAP. While the OS looks great, it just seems they are trying to make people get excited about features that SHOULD HAVE BEEN there to begin with. Little things here and there, such as no custom ringtones--in an era where even prepaid phones have such feature-- just goes to show Microsoft rushed the release, thinking that maybe, just maybe, their name (and Xbox Live) could have pushed the sales of these devices. Sadly, that isn't the case, and probably will never be if they don't speed up the development and update process.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't waste millions of dollars to develop and release an OS just to play catch-up... Oh, and the update is not Windows Phone 7.5, its 7.1

Guest said:

I wont trust MS here since they will soon charge hundreds of & for thier next update in future /support just as they do in the desktop/laptop space. No support for old OS and pay for new one.. WOW MS we dont trust u here. there r better players than u in the market and we support them

Guest said:

OOPS i ment hundreds of $

Guest said:

I don't care how much of an apple fan boy you are the OS looks be a generation ahead of iOS, don't know if iPhone 5 can match this. The only thing lacking is a rich app store, but that's fast improving. Ppl need to stop bashing Ms and realize they will make outstanding products with Nokia.

Guest said:

What's all this about ringtones etc? Surely everyone picks their favorite MP3s to use over the default ones right?

Guest said:

Looks like thier browser still got a long way to go. I have a fairly old Samsung phone just gone to that same site he ran his html5 test from and I scored 182/400 (weirdly +1 bonus point :P). With the web moving more and more to html5 phones need to be pushing for that 100% rendering and compatibility

yRaz yRaz said:

Guest said:

I don't care how much of an apple fan boy you are the OS looks be a generation ahead of iOS, don't know if iPhone 5 can match this. The only thing lacking is a rich app store, but that's fast improving. Ppl need to stop bashing Ms and realize they will make outstanding products with Nokia.

haters gonna hate, I just hate back. The app store does need some work, they get mango out with a 5-10% in apps and I'm sure windows phone will really start to take off. People are afraid of change, at least the iOS fanbois...

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

yRaz: People are afraid of change ....... period. It doesn't just iOS specific issue. If they weren't would they be making such fools out themselves by believing lairs who just keeping shouting 'change' instead of make it happen.

Anyway, I am eagerly awaiting this thing to come out on some refreshed hardware platform. By the way, Micheal +1 as WP interface indeed is a very beautiful compared to many clunky interfaces making rounds on android.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

What's all this about ringtones etc? Surely everyone picks their favorite MP3s to use over the default ones right?

No, not on Windows Phone 7. They only give you, I think, about 20 or so ringtones. You cannot use your MP3s (not like you could even access the phone media to begin with), and you can't even buy ringtones from the Zune marketplace; so no, you are only restricted to the ringtones that came with the phone. Why would they let this slip? I just can't fathom how, in the development process, they didn't think to include it.

What I believe is, that they did in fact think about it, but, like I said, Microsoft rushed the release of the OS (I believe it was in fear of another version of iOS), and rushed out what is a mediocre phone. Because, while it is different and beautiful, it still lacks so many features that at the end of the day make it mediocre, overall. Mango is <I>exactly</I> what WP7 should have been. Had the release of WP7 been Mango, developers would have had even more access to the OS, and, much more likely, apps would have been released at a much higher pace.

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