By Mark Hachman
Microsoft said Tuesday that it had released the "Mango" update of Windows Phone to manufacturing, also known as RTM. Microsoft is preparing for its own Mango update to existing hardware.
"This marks the point in the development process where we hand code to our handset and mobile operator partners to optimize Mango for their specific phone and network configurations," Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of Windows Phone Engineering, wrote in a blog post.
Microsoft will also prep its own Mango updates for existing hardware, which it has said previously are due in September. Microsoft also did not reveal the name of the update, still referring to it by its code name, "Mango".
If PCMag.com's preview of Mango is any indication, the update will give Google and Apple a run for its money. "The next version of Windows Phone 7, called 'Mango,' although that won't be its final name, is great-looking and fun to use," PCMag.com's managing editor for mobile, Sascha Segan, wrote. "It's full of people-centric features that make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family, to communicate, and to share ideas. It's easier to use than Android, and in many ways slicker than Apple's iOS."
Mango reportedly has over 500 new features. That includes more seamless communications options, a better Web browser, and much richer Bing search, for instance.
For his part, Myersonm said that he preferred a new Conversation View that combines email discussions; threads, which bring together Facebook Chat, IM, and texts, and app multitasking, which connects apps to search results and allows apps to run in the background. Mango also adds Internet Explorer 9 for fast browsing.
Mango is also rumored to have indoor maps of locations like shopping malls.