Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" update should be "broadly available" in October, Microsoft exec says.
Handset maker HTC on Thursday became the first vendor to formally introduce smartphones that run the latest version of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.
The HTC Titan features an LCD display that, at 4.7 inches, is one of the largest on the market. It's also equipped with 16GB of storage, an 8 megapixel autofocus camera and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat, as well as support for Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth services.
The second model introduced by HTC, the Radar, is likely aimed more at budget-minded consumers. It sports a 3.8-inch LCD display, 8GB of storage, a 5 megapixel camera, and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS support.
Both phones, of course, will also offer all of the features built into Mango, which is also known as Windows Phone 7.5. Among other things, Mango adds support for multitasking, hyper-local search, and hardware-assisted Web browsing to Microsoft’s mobile platform.
HTC did not reveal pricing or a ship date for the phones. In a Mango-related blog post, Microsoft Windows Phone VP Joe Belfiore said the devices will be "broadly available from October 2011 globally, beginning in Europe and Asia, with pricing info to come later."
Mango adds 500 new features, from major improvements like multitasking to numerous, transparent back-end services, according to Microsoft.
A feature called Threads lets users glide between text, Windows Live Messenger, and Facebook chat within the same "conversation." Groups lets users receive and send messages from predefined social or business circles directly to and from the Smart Tiles home screen. Contact Cards have been enhanced to include feeds from Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as previously supported networks. Local Scout, which is integrated with Bing, yields hyper-local search results for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Mango also adds long-awaited multitasking capability, which lets users move freely between applications and pick up and resume where they left off. 4G wireless support is embedded. For security-conscious enterprise customers, Mango adds support for various rights management technologies. For example, it lets authorized users open emails tagged with restrictions such as "do not forward" or "do not copy." Additionally, it beefs up integration with authoring and collaboration tools like Lync and Office 365.
With market share at 5.7%, Microsoft's mobile Windows products significantly trail RIM BlackBerry, Apple iOS, and Google Android in U.S. mobile OS shipments, according to the most recent data from Comscore. Microsoft is counting on Mango, and its partnership with Nokia, to help it catch up.
Nokia has said it may begin shipping Mango-equipped phones in the U.S. later this year, but that the bulk of its Windows Phone 7 offerings will arrive in 2012.
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