10 'Mango' Features for Microsoft Partners

The Windows Phone 7.5 release is chock full of business-friendly functionality.

In late September and early October, Microsoft and mobile carriers started rolling out the "Mango," or Windows Phone 7.5, update and releasing new devices with the upgraded mobile OS.

Here are 10 of the 500 feature improvements likely to be of the most use to Microsoft partners and their customers.

1. Custom Apps in Marketplace
A new feature of the Windows Phone platform is the ability for companies that develop custom apps for internal use to put them in the Windows Phone Marketplace. The app won't be visible in the public-facing catalog, but it allows for distribution to large numbers of employees. The feature should simplify distribution for Microsoft partners doing custom application development for large customers.

2. Enhanced Exchange Server Support
The ability to connect to Exchange e-mail isn't a differentiator among smartphones for Windows Phone 7. Android devices and iPhones can connect, as well. But with Mango, Microsoft is starting to leverage the opportunity to take integration further than the competition can or will. The 7.5 release can search the Exchange Server for fully indexed e-mail content and attachments and perform searches refined by date range and by folders. Also supported now on the Exchange side are alphanumeric Exchange passwords.

3. Linked Inboxes
Multiple e-mail account support, for calibrating work-life balance, gets much more sophisticated in Mango. A feature called Linked Inboxes allows users to pick and choose among their e-mail accounts to have some feed into a single view.

4. Intelligent Multitasking
Mango adds the crucial feature of multitasking support, allowing users to switch between apps or take calls without losing progress on a document or game. The control for multitasking, called App Switcher, is intuitive and shows large screen images that make it easy to pick among open apps.

App Switcher
The App Switcher in Mango provides large views of the available screens.

5. Twitter and LinkedIn
Windows Phone 7 supported feeds from Facebook and Windows Live. Mango adds tight integration with the more business-oriented social networks of Twitter and LinkedIn.

6. New Voice Commands
Microsoft Tellme technology powers a number of new voice command capabilities across the phone's functions. Partners may have the opportunity to plug into the infrastructure to create new interaction paradigms for their apps.

7. Improved Office Mobile Apps
One of the best features of Windows Phone 7 was the mobile Microsoft Office suite, featuring Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The Mango versions are basically the same with minor upgrades. For example, where all documents appeared as orange tiles in Windows Phone 7, they now have different colors based on file type, making files easier to find.

8. Document Templates
Microsoft added a handful of templates for new Word and Excel files, as well: Agenda, Expenses, Golf scorecard, Mileage tracker, Modern card, Modern invite, Timesheet, Vibrant card and Vibrant invite.

Businesses will have the ability to add their own apps to the Windows Phone Marketplace for easier internal distribution.

9. Office 365
New users who provide their Office 365 credentials will find their phones automatically configured and synced with e-mail, calendar, contacts, tasks, SharePoint team sites and an Outlook Live Tile on the Start screen.

10. Downloadable Lync Mobile App
The app for Office 365 or on-premises Lync Server 2010 supports presence information, IM, multi-party chat, coworker searches, availability updates and quick connections to scheduled meetings.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.