Microsoft this week shipped its Windows Phone "Mango" update to phone makers--adding key features to the smartphone OS that Microsoft is pitting against Apple iPhone and Google Android. Check out this visual tour of seven significant new functions.
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Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 to considerable hype in October 2010. Initial reaction was mostly lukewarm. Pundits praised the unique, "Live Tiles" interface that pushes real-time feeds from social networks and other services directly to the startup screen. But beyond that, there was a consensus that the platform offered little else new compared to rival offerings-and it was significantly lacking in some crucial areas--most notably multitasking. That may partly explain why, by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's own admission, Windows Phone 7 has struggled. "In a year, we've gone from very small to ... very small" in market share, Ballmer said at the company's recent Worldwide Partner conference in Los Angeles. Microsoft hopes to change that with the Mango update. Mango adds the long-awaited multitasking. It lets users move freely between applications and pick up and resume where they left off without having to restart the app. For instance, a user playing a game that's interrupted by a phone call could take the call, then switch back to the game at the point where he left off. A new addition to the interface lets users check app states and select those that are currently running. Windows Phone needs multitasking just to keep up with Android and Apple's iOS, both of which have already implemented the feature.