On the second day of the MIX11 conference, Joe Belfiore, corporate VP of Microsoft, outlined what lies ahead for Windows Phone 7. One of the biggest hurdles for Microsoft has been to push out updates regularly and reliably. It infamously bricked Samsung phones through its February (NoDo) update. To make matters worse, although Microsoft had promised to deliver cut-paste feature in January, many WP7 users are yet to receive it due to careers and manufacturers taking their own sweet time.
Going forward, Microsoft hopes to get these problems sorted out. To that effect, it has added both staff and infrastructure to the unit responsible for testing updates. If you are amongst the unfortunate WP7 owners who haven’t yet received the update, head over to the Where’s my phone update? page to check the status of the update for your handset. Microsoft has also launched a portal called Update Central, which includes a step by step guide for installing WP7 updates, and acts as a central repository for all update related information.
Microsoft expects every manufacturer to finish testing the current update by the end of April. Soon after, in May, it will release a beta version of new developer tools. The new developer tools will enable developers to create more powerful and versatile apps for Windows Phone 7.
The first major update for Windows Phone 7, codenamed Mango, is expected to be released this fall. It will rectify some of the most glaring shortcomings of Windows Phone 7. Mango will enable multitasking for third-party applications, introduce fast application switching, update the browser to Internet Explorer 9, and integrate Twitter. Mango will also introduce support for 16 additional languages, and expand the Marketplace to 35 countries (up from 16).
Microsoft has added as many as 1500 APIs to Windows Phone 7. Perhaps the most significant addition is the inclusion of APIs for raw access to camera and motion sensor libraries, which a lot of devs had been demanding. This will finally allow augmented reality apps like Layar, which was also demoed today, to arrive on WP7. Developers will also get access to Live Agents for creating Live Tiles, and accessing Push notifications. WPSauce has a fairly comprehensive summary of the new developer features.
All in all, Mango is looking to be a fantastic update. It will take care of some of the biggest shortcomings of Windows Phone 7; and hopefully, propel Windows Phone 7 into being a true challenger of Android and iOS.