Microsoft used the occasion of its MIX11 conference in Las Vegas last week to talk up pending updates to its Windows Phone operating system and to make an appeal to developers to create solutions for the platform.
In a keynote at the event, Microsoft corporate vice president of mobile Joe Belfiore told the audience that the next version of the Windows Phone OS—code named Mango—will be ready by the end of 2011, and that new developer tools will be available as soon as May.
New features of the Mango platform include application multitasking support, to enable background processing, audio and file transfer, and fast application switching; deeper phone integration; and access to the camera and Motion Sensor library, so developers can build apps that incorporate device hardware and build augmented reality experiences.
Belifore expanded on Microsoft’s evolving strategy to woo developers in the keynote:
The next release of Windows Phone represents the evolution of our strategy for ensuring that developers are at the forefront of ‘what’s next’ by investing in even richer customer experiences, a powerful application platform and a thriving ecosystem. We will soon deliver a new set of Windows Phone Developer Tools that will enable developers to create a new generation of apps that are even faster, more capable and better integrated with Windows Phone.
A more global view is part of that strategy as well. Microsoft noted that since the launch of Windows Phone in November 2010, the number of countries that support creation and commerce of apps for the platform has gone up to 35—up from 16 with the first version of Windows Phone.
Microsoft also is adding a dedicated Games Marketplace, expanded parental controls, more mobile operator billing options and a streamlined process for app submission with the new version of the OS.