At a press conference in New York City on Tuesday morning, Andy Lees, President of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business, said the company aims to make mobile computing “smarter and easier for consumers, applications and the internet.”
“We wanted to provide the customer with less clutter, more clarity,” Lees said. “This builds upon our mission to make the smartphone smarter, and easier. With Windows Phone Mango, we’re taking a people-centric approach to communications.”
The new software features “tight” integration with Facebook — Microsoft is a minority owner of the social network — Bing, Redmond’s search engine, and Skype, the web-telephony pioneer Microsoft recently purchased for $8.5 billion.
Microsoft has been searching for a path forward in the mobile space, lest it fall farther behind Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android operating system, which have surged to a lead in the booming smartphone market. The company originally launched Windows Phone 7 in November 2010 on several handsets built by manufacturers including HTC, Samsung and LG.
In order to differentiate itself from the likes of Apple and Google, Microsoft officials said the company is pursuing a strategy that seeks to integrate mobile applications with the operating system.
“Think of your applications as musical instruments,” Lees said. “With Mango, they finally become part of an orchestra, with a conductor. With Windows Phone 7, applications are alive as part of the total experience.”
One of the key components of the new Windows Phone 7 is the the “people hub,” an all-in-one contacts list with tight Facebook integration that allows users to text, call, IM, or tweet at people on your contacts list. Other new features Microsoft announced for the software update were multitasking, copy-and-paste and multimedia messaging.
Mango will be available on devices beginning this fall, Lees said, adding that the software is already live on not-yet-public handsets built by Nokia.
Microsoft is releasing the API immediately to allow developers to create applications for the software.
Photo: Microsoft mobile products chief Andy Lees introducing the Windows Phone 7 “Mango” update at an event in New York on May 24, 2011. Sam Gustin/Wired.com.