Beauty and the geek: Windows Phone 'Mango' vs. Android

Microsoft's mobile OS reboot turns out to be a small update that lacks enterprise security and rich apps but is a cleaner alternative to Google's Android for smartphones

Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango," Microsoft's answer to Apple's iOS and Google's Android, draws you in immediately with its simple but sexy interface. It's very easy to get into messaging -- both traditional email and IM and newfangled Twitter and Facebook -- and launch widgets to track the weather or see your stocks. The colorful Windows Phone UI makes iOS look a bit dowdy, almost computerlike, and it really shows what a mess the Android Franken-interface is.

But in the case of Windows Phone 7.5, the beauty is only skin deep. The OS doesn't actually offer much. The available apps are highly simplified widgets -- there's nothing of the texture, quality, sophistication, or capability of what iOS or even Android offers. Just compare Office for Windows Phone to Apple's iWork suite or the Documents to Go suite for Android: Office's Word has no fonts, no styles, no tables or charts -- it's a glorified note-taking app. Office's PowerPoint lets you edit just text, not add slides or visual elements, whereas Keynote for iOS could replace PowerPoint on your PC.

[ See who wins InfoWorld's deathmatch comparison: Apple iOS 5 vs. Google Android. | Learn to manage iPads, iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and other mobile devices in InfoWorld's Mobile Device Management Deep Dive PDF special report. ]

And Windows Phone has no place in the enterprise. Although it works with Exchange, it supports very few Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policies -- not even the basics any corporation would require, such as on-device encryption and password histories.

Microsoft's "Mango" face-lift targets the aging Android "Gingerbread"
Although Microsoft has billed Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" as a major update to the shockingly limited original Windows Phone OS released a year ago, it is not a big change. Microsoft has filled in some of the glaring gaps: Copy and paste, for example, was added in the "NoDo" update this past spring. Of the 13 big holes for professional users in Windows Phone 7.0, only three have been addressed in Windows Phone 7.5: Multitasking has been added, you can now thread messages in a conversation, and the OS partially supports HTML5, though it's still far behind iOS and Android in the last regard.

What's really new in Windows Phone 7.5 are a handful of widgets, not fundamental capabilities. That accounts for the superficiality of the Windows Phone 7.5 OS; it's essentially the same weak platform with more makeup and jewelry piled on. In fact, after updating a Windows Phone 7.0 to "Mango," I could detect no difference, so I went to the Settings app to be sure it actually had been installed.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Web and Internet support (20.0%)
Business connectivity (25.0%)
Application support (15.0%)
Security and management (25.0%)
Usability (15.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" 7.0 5.0 6.0 5.0 8.0 6.0
Google Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" 8.0 5.0 7.0 5.0 7.0 6.2
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