Microsoft Releases Windows Phone 'Mango' to Manufacturing

Software giant Microsoft may be slow to bring the first major update to its entry into the smartphone sweepstakes to market, but Tuesday afternoon it announced that update -- codenamed "Mango" -- has now been released to mobile handset makers. Public availability is not far off.

"The Windows Phone development team officially signed off on the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of 'Mango' -- the latest version of the Windows Phone operating system [which] marks the point in the development process where we hand code to our handset and mobile operator partners to optimize Mango for their specific phone and network configurations," Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of Windows Phone engineering, said in a post to the Windows Phone Blog Tuesday afternoon.

The first edition of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Phone 7 (WP7) first shipped on new smartphones last November.

WP7 has gone through a couple of minor updates since then, but nothing on the scale of Mango, which Microsoft has claimed adds as many as 500 new and updated features, including a native version of Internet Explorer 9.

Meantime, as Microsoft's hardware OEM partners ready, test, and build new and updated Mango-based Windows Phones to debut this fall, the software titan's own minions are hurrying to get the update ready to deploy to existing Windows Phones already in users' hands.

”Here on the Windows Phone team, we now turn to preparing for the update process. The Mango update for current Windows Phone handsets will be ready this fall," Meyerson's post added.

Microsoft so far does not have any other major updates publicly scheduled after Mango, although it's a cinch they are in work. Microsoft is desperate to make significant headway in the smartphone marketplace, going so far as to ink a deal last winter with Nokia to use Windows Phone exclusively on the Finnish phone makers' smartphones.

Earlier this month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer quipped at the company's annual partner meeting that, since it shipped less than a year ago, Windows Phone's share has gone from "very small to very small."

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.