Microsoft unveils Windows Phone updates (live blog)

Microsoft unveils 500 new updates to its Windows Phone mobile platform at an event in New York City. And CNET is there covering it live.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
9 min read

Editor's note: We used Cover It Live for this event, so if you missed the live blog, you can still replay it in the embedded component below. Replaying the event will give you all the live updates along with commentary from our readers and CNET reporters. For those of you who just want the updates, we've included them in regular text here. To get the key points from today's announcement, you can check out a summary of what got announced, in our story here.

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Microsoft is set to unveil more than 500 changes to its Windows Phone mobile platform at an event Tuesday morning in New York.

The update, called Mango, will include some new business capabilities that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked about Monday at the Japanese Microsoft Developer Forum 2011.

The company is also expected to unveil some new Windows Phone partners, according to Ballmer. This could mean that we'll get a glimpse at some new hardware at the press event. That said, Bonnie Cha, CNET's smartphone expert, doesn't expect new devices or the Mango updates to be available for a while.

Microsoft gave a peek at what might be offered in Mango at Mobile World Congress 2011 in February. Some new features likely include third-party multitasking, Internet Explorer 9 support, and Twitter integration in the Peoples hub.

CNET will have a team of reporters covering the event live. To stay on top of the latest news, check out our live blog. The link is below. The press conference starts at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT). We'll be kicking off the live blog discussion about 15 to 20 minutes early, so come back and join the fun.

Transcript of the live blog starts here:

10 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Andy Lees takes the stage, the president of Microsoft's mobile biz.

10:01 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): He is talking about Microsoft's mission for redesigning the mobile experience. He said that Microsoft put the consumer first rather than the OS.

10:02 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): There was also a new approach to the ecosystem. Making sure that hardware and software work together and provide a rich platform for developers but also making sure that battery life is good.

10:02 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Now they are unveiling the next chapter: Mango. This is the way to make the smartphone smarter and easier.

10:02 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Customers want three main things: connect and share with friends, rich applications, and to harness Internet.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:03 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Let's look at the first part of this strategy: communications.

Andy Lees, president of Microsoft's mobile business Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:04 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): People are communicating not just phone to phone but also to the TV and to other devices. And the only way to communicate is that you need different apps to communicate. But Mango will provide a more people-centric approach to communicating.

10:04 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Derek Snyder, senior product manager for Windows Phone 7, is now doing a demo with a prerelease version of Mango.

10:05 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): They have improved the home screen so that notifications are pushed more. Added Twitter and LinkedIn so you can see what is new with friends instead of going to separate apps.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:06 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Call history is sorted by person. So you can see picture messages and IMs, and visual voice mails, which is part of Mango too.

Derek Snyder, senior product manager for Windows Phone 7 Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:07 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): You can also set up groups in Mango. So you can sort your family into a group or friends from NYC. So you bring together all the people in those groups and then the live tiles are updated. You can see a filter of social networks for just those people in the group. You can also see the pictures that are tagged too.

10:08 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Can also do group communication. Saw competitors were doing group communication, so BlackBerry had BBM but needed another BlackBerry to use it. So integrating Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo chat out of the box.

10:09 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Mango is going further with predictive text and typing, which could be cool or could be annoying.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:10 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): There's also a new feature called "threads." Facebook conversation came to his phone and then tells him if the person is off Facebook and they can continue the conversation in text.

10:10 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): E-mail communication is still important to people. Can bring e-mail together or keep it separate. So for example, work can be separate but personal Hotmail and Gmail can be combined together for personal e-mail.

10:11 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): There have been some security restrictions applied for enterprise e-mail.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:12 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): For example, if there is a particular tag that restricts it, certain e-mail can't be forwarded.

10:12 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): They've also linked the calendar to other social-networking sites, like Facebook.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:12 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Now we're talking about music.

10:13 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Now they're demonstrating some voice-activated functionality. Can have your text messages read to you while you're in the car for example. And he can respond.

10:14 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): OK, so we weren't really talking about music before. Sorry, that was just a voice activation demo while you're in the car listening to music.

10:14 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Andy Lees is back summarizing the demos we just saw.

10:15 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): In a nutshell, Microsoft is trying to make it easier for people to communicate, whether among individuals or groups.

10:15 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Now he is talking about applications.

10:16 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): In other smartphones, apps are just silos. Two major problems with this. They don't integrate into a total experience. So if you have multiple music apps, they aren't shared. Each app must be launched to access the info in those apps.

10:17 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Now Derek is back doing more demos.

10:18 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): The first thing he is talking about is pictures. You can upload to Facebook and then they have auto face recognition.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:18 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): And now talking about Office. While other phones allow viewing, now can hook up to Office apps. Can access the Sky Drive.

10:19 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Can see spreadsheets and save them and know they won't be garbled up. Highlight cells and can add up figures. There is a lot more that they have done in Office.

10:19 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Now he is talking about Xbox Live Hub for Mango.

10:21 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): He is showing off using the game Rise of Glory: a WWI flight game. Derek is showing how when a game is interrupted you can go back and forth without draining the battery. You can also go back and forth between the game and other apps.

10:22 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Can take gaming to the next level because it's the only smartphone that connects to Xbox Live. So can see friend list and every game can be accessed through the Xbox Live tile in Mango.

10:23 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Derek is talking about a British Airways app for Windows Phone. BA can send live updates on weather and flight updates pushed right to the phone.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:24 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Users can then tap on the tile to see your flight for example. You can choose your seat on the plane. And you can also take a virtual walk through the cabin to choose your seat. Then can check in and get boarding pass, which can be scanned by kiosk. Can get more info on the flight to get what movies or food is offered.

10:25 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Other phones you can get the boarding pass, but it's hard to get back to it. Using app short-cutting you can get to it much faster when you actually get to the airport after you've already checked in.

10:25 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): And now back to Andy Lees. Another quick summary.

10:27 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Smarter apps and multitasking; Live tiles with shortcuts, enhanced hubs--these are the main enhancements for apps.

10:27 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Now we are getting to the info about the Internet. Microsoft is bringing IE9 to the phone. And it's exactly the same as the one that's used on the desktop.

10:28 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): With Mango, Bing is deeply integrated into the phone to make looking for everything on the phone easier.

10:29 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Derek is back for another demo. Showing several competitors: Droid Charge, BlackBerry Torch, and iPhone 4. All compared to a Windows Mango phone. He's going to do a speed test.

10:30 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): HTML5 speed reading. The Blackberry is 4 frames a second, iPhone not started, and 26 frames a second for Mango. Android is coming along.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:30 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Bing is not an app on Windows phone; it's integrated into the phone.

10:31 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Showing that if you search for "Water For Elephants" it takes you directly to the showtimes.

10:32 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Then it might take you to IMDb to let you get more info about the movie.

10:33 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Now demonstrating looking for a restaurant. You get the location and reviews. And you can identify the neighborhood that the restaurant is in. And you can see what is nearby in terms of [what to] eat and drink and other things to do in that neighborhood.

10:34 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): It keeps track of favorites, so when you go back to that city or area it keeps all that info.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

10:35 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): There is more information that is added to each location in the Local Scout app. So if you go to Madison Square Garden, it doesn't just give you the location but it also gives you upcoming concerts.

10:36 a.m. ET (Jay Greene): Microsoft showed the mall indoor map feature at its online Advertising Summit in Redmond in March. Pretty interesting stuff.

10:36 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Derek is now demonstrating how you can search using images. So you can take a picture of a particular book and then it tells you about the book and where you can buy it.

10:37 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): You can be sent directly to Amazon where you can purchase the book on the phone.

10:38 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Andy Lees summarizes again. They have added IE9 to the phone. They've added the Quick Cards App, and Quick Scout, and App Connect. He said there are more than 500 new features added to the software.

10:39 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): The release of the Mango software will be available in the fall. And it will be a free upgrade. Users can just plug in their phones to their PC and it will be updated.

10:40 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Microsoft has over 18,000 apps and the Mango tools will be available today so that they are ready when the update comes in the fall.

10:41 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Microsoft will soon announce new carrier partners to expand where the phones will be available.

10:42 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Samsung, LG, and HTC will be releasing new phones that will be 4G and will support Mango.

10:42 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Acer, Fujitsu, and ZTE will also be new partners for Windows Phone.

10:43 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Mango will be used on first Nokia/Microsoft phones.

10:44 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Seven months after Windows Phone 7, and now unveiling next chapter: Mango. The focus is on what people want to do most. Mango is not just easier and faster but it knows where you are going. And the tools for developers are available today.

10:44 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Looks like the presentation is done. I actually will be meeting with Andy Lees in about 15 minutes for a one-on-one interview. Let me know if you have some questions.

10:48 a.m. ET (Josh Lowensohn): There's a video covering some of the new features on YouTube, featuring Microsoft's Joe Belfiore.

10:57 a.m. ET (Maggie Reardon): Thanks to everyone on the live blog! I have to run off to my interview with Andy Lees. Stay tuned for a story from my colleague Jay Greene. And I'll have something from my interview later today as well.