Microsoft has taken to its blog to detail the upcoming Tango update, which is largely believed to be a minor update to the Windows 7.5 Mango platform currently available on Windows Phone devices. Tango is the platform that will be preloaded on Nokia’s recently announced entry-level Lumia 610 and ZTE Orbit devices, which are due out in Q2.
Tango will be released en masse sometime in April, and will likely hit all Windows Phone devices currently on the market. Tango adds greater support for low-end devices, and will work on phones that have as little as 256MB of RAM as well as low-end processors such as the Qualcomm 7X27a system on a chip, while still delivering the “buttery smooth” Windows Phone experience. The update also adds support for multiple new languages.
While entry-level Android devices will have a hard time running several of the applications found on the Android Market, Microsoft boldly claims that this is not an issue for their devices. Microsoft has identified a small subset of Windows Phone applications (approximately 5% of the 65,000 applications available) that will not work on their budget devices, and has reached out to the developers of those applications asking them to make a few tweaks to their applications to support Microsoft’s new specifications. Applications that are not able to meet these criteria will continue to be sold but with a disclaimer for low-end devices.
The Tango update will definitely be a minor maintenance upgrade to Windows Phone 7.5, holding Windows Phone users over until the Windows Phone 8 (codenamed Apollo) update drops later this year. The rumors have been swirling about Apollo since the beginning of this month, with the following features rumored to be making their way into Windows Phone 8.
- Support for multicore processors
- Support for new screen resolutions (a total of four, although actual pixel counts weren’t specified, according to PocketNow)
- Support for removable microSD card storage
- Support for NFC and an associated “Wallet Experience”
- Inclusion of Windows’ core elements, including kernel, networking stacks, security, and multimedia support. (I believe this is confirmation that elements of Windows 8’s MinWin core will replace Embedded Compact with Windows Phone 8.)
- New data-tracking capabilities, showing users a breakdown of their data consumption by various networks
- Use of a proxy server to deliver pages more efficiently and quickly to Internet Explorer 10 Mobile
- Of special interest to enterprise users: Addition of native BitLocker encryption and Secure Boot
- Of special interest to developers: New app-to-app communication capability that sounds likeWindows 8’s contracts feature, as Thurrott noted
- A separate but improved Skype application, but not integration of Skype into the operating system
- Replacement of the Zune PC client software with an update mechanism more akin to ActiveSync
With Tango coming in the next few months, and the major Apollo upgrade rumored for later this year, it’s sure to be an exciting year for Windows Phone owners. As Microsoft increases awareness of Windows Phone with its Smoked by Windows Phone marketing campaign, we may see more and more consumers willing to adopt Microsoft’s mobile platform.