Redmond, Wash. - Microsoft previewed the next major release of Windows Phone, code-named "Mango," which its said will deliver more than 500 new features to push the boundaries of the smartphone experience around communications, apps and the Internet.
Mango will be available free to Windows Phone 7 customers and is scheduled to ship on new phones beginning this fall. More details on device update timing will be provided closer to availability.
Windows Phone will also add support for additional languages, expand access to apps by launching Windows Phone Marketplace in new countries, and partner with new OEMs to enable expansion to new markets.
"Seven months ago we started our mission to make smartphones smarter and easier for people to do more," said Andy Lees, president of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft. "With â€˜Mango,' Windows Phone takes a major step forward in redefining how people communicate and use apps and the Internet, giving you better results with less effort."
Users will be able to switch between text, Facebook chat and Windows Live Messenger within the same conversation. Group contacts are put into personalized Live Tiles to see the latest status updates right from the Start Screen and quickly send a text, email or IM to the whole group, Microsoft said.
Twitter and LinkedIn feeds are now integrated into contact cards, and "Mango" includes built-in Facebook check-ins and new face-detection software that makes it easier to quickly tag photos and post to the Web.
Multiple email accounts can be in one linked inbox, conversations are organized to make it easy to stay on top of the latest mail, and built-in voice-to-text and text-to-voice support enables hands-free texting or chatting, Microsoft said.
Mango also will surface apps as part of search results and within Windows Phone Hubs. As a result, a useful app is more likely to be right there when needed, the company said.
Connecting apps to search results and deepening their integration with Windows Phone Hubs, including Music and Video and Pictures, Mango allows apps to be surfaced when and where they make sense, Microsoft said.
Mango enables a user to switch between apps in use and allow apps to run in the background, helping to preserve battery life and performance.
A browser based on Internet Explorer 9 is available and hyperlocal search results can recommend nearby businesses and activities.
A video of today's press conference is available