1:15 PM -- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is squeezing all the juice it can out of Mango, its latest operating system update, announcing 500 improvements Tuesday. (See Microsoft Tangos With Mango and Microsoft Debuts Mango OS Update.)
We have listed all 500 below ... just kidding, not even Microsoft did that. Besides, it's not the individual updates and application programming interfaces (APIs) that matter as much as using the aggregate to get WP7 on par with its competitors, namely Android and the iPhone. Microsoft had a lot of work to do just to get back in the game.
With the first 500 out of the way, it will be able to focus on really standing out and outgrowing its competitors. (See Why Windows Phone Will Beat Android and Windows Phone & World Domination.)
It's already got a start, too. I wasn't at the official unveiling Tuesday in New York, but followed from afar, and a few improvements stood out to me.
I'm not currently a Bing user, but would most certainly be on a WP7 device. Microsoft's new mobile search feature lets users take a picture to pull up search results that link to apps. From those apps you can purchase the pictured object through a shortcode. That level of API integration is impressive, provided it works smoothly.
My social networking contacts are different for each source, so I liked that Mango brings them together under each contact's name. It's also nifty that Mango lets you group your contacts, along with their relevant social networking information, so you can separate friends from coworkers from ex-boyfriends from family members.
Call me a nerd, but I am jazzed about augmented reality on Mango, showed off on The History Channel and Weather Channel apps. There are no crazy eye tricks, but the apps use the phone's gyro and accelerometer to take pictures of landmarks to pull up their historical information and fun facts. [Ed. note: Nerd!]
Microsoft will have to continue to innovate on its OS -- not necessarily with 500 deep platform updates, but with a steady stream of improvements, updates and a few new "wow" features. Android and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) will no doubt continue to do this as well.
I do think they'll have an advantage in how well Skype blends into the OS and phone functions. If MSFT can make Skype as easy to use and frill-free as Apple has made FaceTime, that would be quite a strong incentive to use Windows-powered devices.
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