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Microsoft delivers near-final Mango to app makers

After yesterday's release of the Windows Phone 7 update to manufacturers, Microsoft is offering updated development tools to the folks readying new software.

Following Microsoft's release of the Mango update to Windows Phone 7 manufacturers yesterday, the company today put out a much-updated build of its mobile phone software tools for developers to test their apps on ahead of a public release.

Windows Phone 7 update notice
The Windows Phone 7 update notice. Microsoft

On Microsoft's Windows Phone Developer blog, Cliff Simpkins, the senior product manager of Microsoft's Windows Phone group notes that Windows Phone SDK 7.1 "beta 2 refresh" is pretty close to the final version of the software it released yesterday, though it's being considered a release candidate.

Why is it not the same version manufacturers got yesterday? Simpkins says development kit is a mix of both the OS and the tools, and that to get them ready for this release, they were working off a slightly older "snapshot." Nonetheless, Simpkins says, the APIs are the same ones that will show up in the final build, meaning developers can prep their applications to work, then get them on their way to go through Microsoft's certification process ahead of Mango's release in the fall.

"What we are providing is a genuine release candidate build, with enough code checked in and APIs locked down that this OS is close enough to RTM that, as a developer, it's more than capable to see you through the upcoming RC drop of the tools and app submission," Simpkins wrote.

Mango is the first major system software update to hit Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform since an interim release near the end of March that added copy-and-paste functionality, improved marketplace search, and enabled faster app loading. Microsoft is not counting Mango as an all-new version of the platform, something the company has not yet discussed.

Mango, which brings multitasking and a complete overhaul of the built-in Internet Explorer Web browser, was first discussed in February, at Mobile World Congress. Two months later, Microsoft took the wraps off all the planned features, promising to deliver it in the fall (go here for a CNET hands-on with the software).

Microsoft started dishing out a beta version of Mango to mobile developers at the end of last month so that they could test their applications for compatibility with the new features and back-end changes. The new software represents a month's worth of additional engineering work, Simpkins said.