updated 09:30 am EDT, Mon May 23, 2011
Ballmer says WP7 Mango has 500 new features
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer gave clues at his presentation for the Japan Microsoft Developer Forum (video below) that the upcoming Mango update for Windows Phone 7 would not just have a large number of features but might be matched by new hardware at the same time. The release would have over 500 new features, including the known expanded language update that would give Japan devices by the end of the year. He alluded also to more details of hardware partners and carriers, suggesting more hardware might show at the planned May 24 event.
Tips have emerged that as many as nine devices could come, including from new partners. Acer would join the Windows Phone leagues for the first time with two new models. Dell would launch the Wrigley, another design with a four-inch screen but an eight-megapixel camera. HTC would have two new devices, and Samsung would commit itself much more deeply with four new models, one or more of which may be WP7 equivalents to the Galaxy S II.
Mango isn't expected to arrive until fall and would leave any hardware shown on Tuesday shipping months later. Microsoft may be willing to show prototypes early to avoid leaks and sustain attention up until the end of summer or early fall.
The firm has already talked about major features like real multitasking and IE9, deeper map integration, and third-party support for hardware like cameras and gyroscopes. Leaks have shown a slew of new features, such as built-in multi-network IM, Office 365 access, Smart DJ mixes in the Zune app, and many others. NFC wireless has also been mentioned as an option.
The upgrade could be vital for Microsoft, which has yet to get traction with its new OS. Gartner estimates that WP7's combined partners shipped 1.6 million phones in early 2011, which both put it behind most platforms but outsold even by the aging Windows Mobile. Some missing features, limited exposure and other factors may have affected it where both Android and the iPhone get much more attention from carriers that know both will sell. [via WMPowerUser]