Microsoft started rolling out its Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” update to the world Tuesday, promising “a simultaneous, coordinated, global update that cuts across carriers, phone models, and countries.” It could still be a few weeks before some users get the update, but it looks like Microsoft is avoiding the long delays experienced with earlier, smaller updates to the mobile operating system.
But with Windows Phone’s U.S. market share in the single digits, the big question now is whether the favorable sentiment about Mango will extend to the in-store clerks who influence many purchasing decisions.
My own experience in the past, when shopping for a new phone, has been that those clerks tended to steer me toward iPhones and Android devices even when I expressed an interest in Windows Phone.
That could start to change if Mango continues to generate positive buzz. The update offers upgraded communication tools, improved integration with apps, and more dynamic and informative Live Tiles on the home screen, amid some 500 additional new features.
Another significant improvement is the web marketplace that the company launched today for Windows Phone apps, creating a portal for browsing and discovering new apps without the need to download, install and open the company’s Zune software. It’s an important component that could actually help show some skeptics that Windows Phone does have a respectable lineup of third-party apps.
Microsoft also threw in a bonus today, confirming that Mango adds Internet sharing (aka tethering) for using a phone as a WiFi hotspot, if the feature is enabled and supported by the user’s carrier.