Last week I was invited by Microsoft to a social media gathering to discuss Microsoft’s multichannel marketing strategy in the region and highlight some of the firm’s upcoming new products and services. Among the myriad surprises demonstrated, the star of the show was the in-depth preview of the latest version of Windows Phone: 7.5 Mango.
Windows Phone 7 was launched in September 2010 on a mix of devices including LG, Samsung and HTC. However, the OS has failed to break into top three operating systems (Android, IOS and Blackberry), something Microsoft intends to solve by introducing an updated OS with Mango, and launching it on Nokia phones, which will be available in the Middle East on October 26th.
Microsoft executives have labeled WP 7.5 Mango as an OS designed around “what people love to do,” as one of its key features is very strong social media integration.
Before even delving into WP 7.5’s features, the first thing a user will notice is the elegant, well-designed interface- it’s extremely easy to use.
The Windows Phone Home Screen
WP allows you to “pin” whatever program, contact or mailbox you desire to the home screen so that you can access them easily. The clear, highly customizable interface allows users to modify its look according to their need.
Social Media Integration
One of the biggest features that sets the new Windows Phone apart is, as I mentioned, its orientation towards social media. On the home screen, an icon called the “People Hub” keeps track off all your contacts’ activity on all of the social networks that you are connected to. From status updates on Facebook, MSN, or Twitter to items shared, everything is present. People Hub acts as both a phonebook and a social media aggregator, making it extremely useful to keep track of what your friends are doing. A new feature of WP 7.5 is the ability to now create groups from your contacts and message them or mail them simultaneously while following their latest updates online.
Another novelty is the “Me,” which, as its name indicates, is all about you. Accessing it will allow you to post updates to any social network you are subscribed to, check in into a location, and check your latest notifications to see what new items have been posted on your profiles.
Windows Phone allows the user to remain in touch with all social networks without switching platforms, which is a tremendous time saver, and a feature that other operating systems have not yet incorporated.
Other improvements and novelties concern the new SMS system,
which takes a unique approach, grouping communications in threads.
Now instead of having a conversation only by SMS, you can have the
same conversation continue on Facebook messaging and Windows
Live. E-mail has also been upgraded with the ability to
converge all of your e-mail into a single, customized box- you can
now select the accounts you want and merge them into a single
account on your homescreen.
Multi-Threaded Chat on Windows Phone
Other Features and Improvements
While the list of improvement that come with WP 7.5 is around 500, those that stand out include adding multitasking, which customers complained about missing in the last version, and improving the Bing search engine by adding location-based listings of nearby bars and restaurants. The improved camera can also scan book names and QR codes and redirect you to shopping sites to buy the item you’re looking at. There is also sleek integration with Microsoft Office 2010 that allows you to get near-PC-quality documents and share them on your virtual workspace offered by Microsoft Skydrive.
A Bright Outlook at Redmond?
Windows Phone may not have initially performed as well as
Microsoft would have liked, but the release of Mango in the next
two months will likely spur growth. Ultimately, Microsoft has
developed an attractive OS than integrates social networks easily
and is fun to use. Even the Microsoft Marketplace has been growing
steadily, now at 30,000 apps, thanks in part to its Xbox Live
support. If Microsoft continues to bring innovation to its OS and
eliminate its initial hiccups, there is no doubt that Windows Phone
has a bright future.