Windows Phone 'Mango': Ripe or rotten?

Microsoft's silence on its smartphone OS's business features leaves questions on whether it's bridged Windows Phone 7's many gaps

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Application and UI capabilities
Windows Phone 7's user interface takes a tiled approach that really stands out from other mobile OSes, even WebOS, whose card-based metaphor shares philosophical roots. But Windows Phone 7 fell short in basic core OS capabilities, and it provided less-sophisticated email and business-oriented apps than Apple's iOS. Furthermore, Microsoft's Office apps for Windows Phone 7 are, to put it mildly, primitive, especially when compared to the Apple iWork, Dataviz Documents to Go, and Quickoffice apps available for iOS.

What's missing:

  • Multitasking. Microsoft says "Mango" will provide the ability to switch apps so that they continue to run in background.
  • Copy and paste. Missing in the original Windows Phone 7, copy and paste was added in the March "NoDo" update, and Microsoft also says it will have this capability in Windows Phone 7 "Mango."
  • Device-wide search.
  • App-specific location controls.
  • Message threading. Microsoft has said it will add this capability to its mail client and have it work across email accounts.
  • Email folder automatic syncing.
  • Email search by fields (such as From or Subject).

A reminder of where Windows Phone 7 does well
Although the first version of Windows Phone 7 had many gaps that mattered greatly to business users, the smartphone OS also includes several capabilities that show a more competitive side to the OS. Voice-based Web searches (also available on Google's Android), an onscreen keyboard containing emoticons, opt-in auto-correction, and the ability for the browser to represent itself to websites as a desktop browser (for better display) are all examples of its strengths.

In the social arena, Windows Phone 7 "Mango" promises some appealing capabilities, such as letting users engage in one conversation across multiple social networking and instant-messaging tools.

When "Mango" smartphones finally become available, we'll be able to see which omissions have been addressed. If they have, Windows Phone 7 could become a competitor to the iPhone and Android among business users. If not, it'll probably languish. After all, social networking by itself is not enough to attract users, as Microsoft learned the hard way with its ill-fated Kin "social" phone.

This article, "Windows Phone 'Mango': Ripe or rotten?," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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