Microsoft details Mango release of Windows Phone platform

The upgrade, due this fall, will feature new APIs, a local SQL database, and faster app startup and data loading

Microsoft detailed on Wednesday both the planned "Mango" update to its Windows Phone smartphone platform, due this fall with nearly 1,500 new APIs, and development tool improvements to help build applications for the platform.

With Mango, Microsoft is building up its phone platform in such areas as list scrolling, memory usage, and data access. "Mango will include a local SQL database that allows you to save and query data within your apps," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft's .Net developer platform, at the Mix11 conference in Las Vegas. APIs, meanwhile, expose capabilities like the Silverlight 4 rich Internet plug-in feature set.

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Data will load faster in Mango, Microsoft claims. Although Windows Phone 7 freezes when it gets new data, Mango will be "immediately responsive even if the data hasn't come in," Guthrie said. A generational garbage collector will allow for garbage collection of memory without pausing the application. "This will enable much faster application startup and much smoother interaction, especially with games."

Mango will support the newly released Internet Explorer 9 browser, including the core browsing engine for high performance, said Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows Phone program management. The smartphone OS upgrade will support an additional 16 languages, including Asian languages; search capabilities will beimproved as well. Mango also will boast HTML5 capabilities such as background audio playing from the browser, and native application improvements in areas like data integration. The addition of multitasking will enable faster application switching. Background code execution should improve battery life, and a jump list capabilities will help users get right to applications.

Windows Phone Developer Tools for building Mango applications will be available for free next month, featuring improved emulator capabilities, including location simulation. Profiling support in the tools will allow developers to identify hot spots in an application and pinpoint problems. "It'll walk you through the code that you need to fix in order to address them," Guthrie said. Also, a memory allocation capability will track objects based on how much memory is being allocated.

As had been expected, Microsoft also announced the beta release of Silverlight 5 plug-in platform described by Guthrie as being for "premium" experiences. Support for Silverlight 5 in Microsoft's Visual Studio and Expression Studio tools is also available.

Version 5, which is due for release later this year, will include such capabilities as Hardware Video Decode, for enhanced video quality, and an XNA-based interface for 3D visualizations within applications. The beta release is available at the Silverlight website.

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