Ina Fried

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Ballmer: Windows Phone Has 500 New Features We’ll Tell You About Tomorrow

Microsoft’s big reveal about the next version of Windows Phone is scheduled for Tuesday morning in New York. But that didn’t stop CEO Steve Ballmer from laying the groundwork during a speech in Japan on Monday.

Speaking to developers in Tokyo, Ballmer noted that the “Mango” update later this year will have more than 500 new features. With Windows Phone 7, released last year, Microsoft essentially started over in the phone business, going with an entirely new approach. Though praised for its clean look, the company has acknowledged that it still has a lot of catching up to do on the feature side with rivals such as Apple’s iPhone OS and Google’s Android. With Mango, the company is hoping to close that gap, as well as to expand on some of what makes Windows Phone different, such as its hub-based approach to organizing activities.

“Not only is it a new release that is now much more global, but we’ve added over 500 new features to Windows Phone,” Ballmer said, according to a transcript that Microsoft posted on its press site. “We have a big launch event to talk about the next release of Windows Phone tomorrow. So, that information will be forthcoming, including some of the particulars about who is going to be building Windows Phones, and which carriers will be offering them here in Japan.”

Indeed, Microsoft has already said a fair bit about the next release of Windows Phone. Back at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft mentioned a few key features, including improved multitasking, Twitter integration and a version of its Internet Explorer 9 browser. Since then, the company has also talked about other features, such as better cloud services for Office and deeper access to hardware features to allow for applications like augmented reality.

The new release, due on devices by the holidays, is expected to be the basis for the first crop of Windows Phones from Nokia and new devices from a variety of other hardware makers. Nokia executives said last month that they already have test builds of Mango running on prototype Nokia hardware.

Microsoft will have more to say, for sure, at its event on Tuesday, which is also being Webcast. AllThingsD will be covering it live starting at 7 am PT.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google