Ina Fried

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Microsoft Peels Back Details on Windows Phone “Mango”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has promised that the “Mango” update will bring over 500 new features to Windows Phone, many of which are set to be announced on Tuesday at an event in New York.

Some of the details of Mango have already been announced, including plans for improved Web browsing, better multitasking and integrated Twitter support. The software is due to arrive on new phones and as an upgrade for existing Windows Phones later this year.

The event is also being Webcast and AllThingsD will have live coverage starting at 7 am PT.

6:53 am: (to alarm clock) OK, OK, I’m up.

(to faithful readers) Good morning all. So good to see you all before 7 am.

7:04 am: I don’t think the event has started but the press release is up.

7:05 am: As is our story on some of the new communications features.

7:08 am: Having some technical problems on my end getting into the press conference. Bear with me.

7:14 am: OK. FINALLY got Webcast going. Andy Lees is on stage demoing Mango.

7:15 am: He’s talking about the notion of “threads,” something I talked about in the story that just posted. It’s this idea that a conversation can move from Facebook Chat to Windows Live Messenger to SMS and stay threaded (at least on the Windows Phone).

“With Mango, the message always gets through,” Lees says.

7:16 am: Now he is talking about the benefits of Microsoft’s hub approach as opposed to just “a grid of icons and a sea of applications.”

Lees says rivals’ approach is kind of like having to go back through the front door every time you want to go from the living room to the kitchen.

7:18 am: One of those 500 new features is the ability to tag a face within a photo before uploading it to, say, Facebook.

In the Office hub, Microsoft now supports Office 365 and Skydrive online services.

7:19 am: Some more details from the press release. Acer, Fujitsu and China’s ZTE among the new hardware partners making Windows Phones.

7:21 am: New language support: Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Swedish.

Dutch! Goed Zo!

7:22 am: Demo guy is showing support for avatars in Xbox Live. He’s dressed the same as his avatar and has brought it a monkey, but says, “no judgments, please.”

Um, okay.

7:24 am: Current demo is a British Airways app that lets users see a 3-D map of the plane to pick out their seat.

7:25 am: The developer tools, in beta form, for programmers to create Mango apps will be available for download within 24 hours, Microsoft noted in the press release.

7:27 am: Now Lees is talking about the inclusion of the IE9 browser in Mango.

IE9 in Mango not just similar to the PC version, Lees says, it’s the same.

7:28 am: Mango also has deeply integrated Bing in IE9, Lees says, with support for voice and “answers” as opposed to blue links.

7:29 am: Demo guy is back comparing various phones in an HTML5 speed test, including a Mango phone, Droid Charge Android phone, BlackBerry and iPhone.

Surprise, Mango is doing it the fastest.

7:31 am: Another new feature are “quick cards” that create an answer page for certain categories that not only provide data and search results, but also hand off to relevant apps on the phone.

7:35 am: Demo was getting a bit dull, so I went over to check in on Peter Kafka, who is live blogging about the new Nook from Barnes and Noble. It’s a touchscreen, e-ink device and will sell for $139, in case you were wondering.

7:37 am: Meanwhile, back in Mangoville, Andy Lees is summarizing everything we’ve seen today including new support for voice and image-based search.

“There’s a lot more than we have time to show today,” Lees says.

It’s a very big release and worth waiting for. Good news, he says, is that you won’t have to wait. (Well, you will, but not beyond “fall,” Microsoft says.)

Free update for existing Windows Phone 7 users.

7:40 am: With Mango, Lees says Microsoft expects significant boost in its momentum. Already have 18,000 apps for Windows Phone 7.

7:41 am: Skype coming to Mango (well, I should hope so, since Microsoft is paying all those billions).

7:42 am: In addition to new hardware partners, Mango will work on lower-priced phones, Lees says.

Existing hardware partners Samsung, LG and HTC doing Windows Phones in addition to the new guys–ZTE, Acer and Fujitsu. Not to mention Nokia.

With new geographic support, Lees says that the market will be four times as large with Mango as it was for the first release of Windows Phone.

7:44 am: Lees wraps up.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik