New 'Mango' Windows Phone version integrates apps

The company said it will add 500 features with the update (see video below)

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The British Airways application also demonstrates a new capability that lets developers combine Silverlight and XNA tools. XNA has typically been used by game developers and so includes features like 3D. The new British Airways application offers users a virtual walkthrough of the plane to let passengers choose their seat. Users can also find information about movies and food available on the plane.

It also offers users a scannable boarding pass that can be pinned to the home page, making it easier to open.

Snyder did show off a few new features likely to appeal to business users. For instance, users can now send protected messages. Such messages can't be forwarded or opened on another phone.

Emails are also linked to calendars in Mango. When a user receives a meeting request via email, the message will include a link to the user's calendar and will open the calendar in the date and time suggested for the meeting.

Mango will include an updated version of Office that includes new versions of Excel, One Note, PowerPoint and other apps. People will be able to perform a wide array of Excel functions including highlighting cells to add them and making other changes from the phone.

Mango also will be the first version of the phone to include IE9, which the executives said will speed up browsing.

It will also include a Skype app that will allow users to make Skype calls from the phones. Microsoft recently announced plans to buy Skype. Using Skype on mobile phones has been a sticky issue with operators that don't want free voice over Wi-Fi calling to impact their profits. Microsoft did not elaborate on pricing in the Skype app.

Mango will also include a Twitter app and will support Office 365.

As Windows Phones will be more widely available around the world, via the new hardware partners, support for more languages has been added to the software. New languages include Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Swedish.

Some of the new features have been announced by Microsoft over the past months or were leaked in advance. A couple that were expected, including support for near field communications and a front facing camera, were not announced. Some people had also expected to see new handsets at the event in New York.

The executives also did not comment on ways that its process for pushing the update out to users might be improved. It struggled for months and through many problems as it pushed out the first two updates to current users of Windows Phones.

They also did not discuss ways that the company can maintain interest in current generation phones in light of the coming update. Verizon Wireless plans to introduce its first Windows Phones this week and they will run the current generation software. Some potential buyers could wonder if they should wait for the new hardware and software to come out later this year.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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