September 27, 2011, 4:51 PM — I was fortunate to sit down this morning with Microsoft's Paul Bryan, Windows Phone senior director of product management and enterprise experiences, to discuss the new software at the company's offices in Cambridge, Mass. And I learned quite a few facts that anyone interested in WP7.5 should know.
(Microsoft also provided me with Samsung Focus review device running WP7.5, so you should stay tuned to my Mobile WorkHorse blog for first impressions, video and images of the new software.)
1) The brand new software is no longer called "Mango." That term was an internal codename used during development, and the official name of Microsoft's latest mobile OS is Windows Phone 7.5 (WP7.5)
2) Windows Phone 7.5 is expected to become available on all current Windows Phone devices. There are no new hardware requirements to run the latest OS, though newer devices will be able to take advantage of new software enhancements that will be unavailable on some existing WP7 devices. And all current Windows Phone 7 apps are compatible with WP7.5
3) Microsoft has posted a website that lets you check to see when the Windows Phone 7 software update will be available for your device and/or wireless carrier. The WP7.5 update will be distributed via the Microsoft Zune service and you'll need to tether your device to a PC to download it; the update will not be available wirelessly.
4) The software update includes more than 500 new features and enhancements, many of which are designed to consolidate and integrate various messaging services and provide users with a more unified messaging, social networking and Web experience, according to Bryan.
5) You can now tie contacts' Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to their address book listings, so all communications with those contacts via the two popular social networking services are available in one central location, along with text and e-mail messages.
6) All Windows Phone 7.5 devices will run Microsoft's latest mobile browser, Internet Explorer (IE9), which supports HTML 5 for advanced Web apps and HD video streaming.
7) A new "Bing Vision" app lets you scan QR codes and Microsoft "Tags" to instantly access online information, and the app also has a cool new feature that lets you scan the covers of books to quickly access information on the book, such as author, price, reviews and more. This ability to scan random book covers opens up a new set of possibilities for image scanning in the future via Bing Vision.