On Tuesday, Microsoft previewed the next version of its smartphone operating system — codenamed "Mango" — that's due out later this year. Though the software giant claims Mango has 500 improvements, it only previewed a "small subset" of those. The new more seamless system, says Microsoft, lets users get results across a broad spectrum of media without having to open app after app. For instance, searching a movie title might bring up reviews, ticket-buying options, and mentions of the movie from Facebook friends — all in one place. Microsoft has already lined up a slew of global handset-manufacturing partners — most notably, Nokia — to help increase its market share, which now stands at just 3.6 percent. Can Microsoft's mobile operating system really compete with Google's Android and Apple's iOS?
These changes are exciting: After playing with the Mango software, "I'm hopeful" about the next generation of Microsoft-powered phones, says Bonnie Cha at CNET. The features may not be that groundbreaking, "but the way Windows phone implements them is different and smart." In fact, this is "such an easy system that it makes me wonder why Windows Phone didn't launch with this in the first place."
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Microsoft needs a bigger wow factor: Mango has "some very nice tweaks," but it's "not the radical game-changer" that Microsoft covets, says Maija Palmer in the Financial Times. Many of these "slick" new features are essentially just usability improvements. Microsoft may be looking to position itself in emerging countries like China, before Android and Apple get strangleholds on those markets. But to win over U.S. buyers, it needs to do more. Right now, "it is hard to see the big breakthrough that would shake up consumer apathy about Microsoft."
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And Mango won't even be available for months: This announcement from Microsoft is all about trying to hold onto "momentum and mindshare," but it will be six months before we see Mango live, says Eric Zeman in InformationWeek. Microsoft's preview was really meant "to remind the mobile industry" that the company still "matters, that it is there, that it isn't giving up." But by the time Mango goes live, both Google and Apple will have new updates, too. "Microsoft's road to recovery is still a long, steep climb."
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