Microsoft Says 'Mango' Updates Nearly Here

Microsoft and its hardware partners are within a week or two of finally shipping the so-called "Mango" update to existing Windows Phones, a company official said this week.

Mango, which Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) also refers to as Windows Phone 7.5, is the first major update to Windows Phone 7 since it first shipped last November and, as such, is widely anticipated by early adopters who bought the phones early on.

The company announced that its work on Windows Phone 7.5 was finished in late July and the code was sent out to OEMs to be incorporated onto new phones -- a process called "released to manufacturing," or RTM -- and also to be sent to phone owners to install as an update.

However, since Microsoft is dependent on the phone hardware makers to do final testing and distribution of the Mango update, the company could only ask users to be patient.

Now that time, at least for users in wait of the update for their phones, is nearly here.

"We now expect to start rolling it out in the next week or two. At that time, we’ll also refresh the Where’s My Phone Update? table to reflect the worldwide rollout status," Eric Hautala, general manager of customer experience engineering for Windows Phone, said in a post to the Windows Phone Blog Wednesday.

While Microsoft has little control over when OEMs ship the updates for their phones, after problems with an earlier, minor update, the company set up a site that at least provides some status as to when updates will be available from specific manufacturers.

Hautala also cautioned impatient users from installing any "unofficial or leaked copies" of the update. Some users who used a third-party hack to get the earlier, minor update, in advance of official release for their phones experienced handset failures that made receiving future updates dicey or worse, not possible.

"During the official Windows Phone 7.5 update process, every Windows Phone will also receive software from the handset manufacturer. This matched and paired firmware has been painstakingly tuned so your phone -- and apps -- work with all the new features of Windows Phone 7.5. Since your phone requires the proper firmware to function as designed, my advice is simple: steer clear of bootleg updates and homebrew tools," Hautala added.

Mango, according to Microsoft, makes some 500 updates and additions to the Windows Phone software. Besides the updates, Microsoft's handset partners are also readying a second wave of Windows Phones that come with Mango pre-installed, including AT&T and others, although the companies have not given a launch date for those devices yet.

Additionally, Windows Phone-based handsets from Finnish phone giant Nokia are also due to be launched in coming weeks.

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.