MOBILE SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft has been beating the drum about its upcoming Windows Phone 7 (WP7) update known as Mango, which the company is calling Windows Phone 7.5.
The Redmond software company's executives know this is an important update. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed that there will be 500 new features in Mango, including some major changes as well as some much needed tweaks. One of them will be to provide access to its own Windows Live Messenger.
More significant though will be changes to the way the phone will handle email, and messaging in general. The headline feature in this area will be groups, which will allow you to set up lists of people that you will be able to communicate with using a number of messaging platforms. This system will aggregate Facebook messages, MSN chats, SMS and emails into one place, ensuring that you will never be able to escape from friends and family, at least not without doing a Reggie Perin.
The email changes seem significant too and do more than ape what has been done by Android and Apple. The most useful feature will be a unified inbox, which will improve on those found on other phones by letting you choose what email accounts are presented together. The best example of this is keeping your Exchange account separate while merging your Gmail and Hotmail together into one inbox.
Microsoft will finally add multi-tasking to its smartphone operating system. Hold the back button down and you'll see a selection of 'cards' that allow you to jump back to recent apps.
There will also be a new Skype app, which you'd have to be living on Mars not to have seen coming. All Microsoft staff have been under strict instructions not to mention anything that might happen in the future with the VoIP company. However one employee did remark that $8bn was a lot to pay for one app, implying that there will be much tighter integration with Skype in the future.
The company also demonstrated HTML5 support in the new IE9 web browser. Microsoft demonstrated a test page alongside an Iphone to show how good the rendering engine is and was also at pains to point out that IE9 on the phone is the same as on a Windows 7 PC, even using the same source code. µ