Is Mango too little too late for Windows Phone?

Mango is here
Mango is here - but where are the handsets?

It's been an exciting week in the world of mobile devices: Microsoft's Mango, the latest version of Windows Phone, is en route to manufacturing - although it'll be a few weeks before we get it.

As Chris Smith points out, it's been a long wait. "The upgrade was announced in May, so by the time the autumn comes around Mango will be around 6 months in the making," he says. "Get a move on, guys!"

There's a lot in Mango - "The Windows Phone Mango update brings 250 new features to the operating system, including Internet Explorer 9 integration and app multi-tasking," Smith says - and of course, we've got an in-depth guide to the whole thing. But is it good enough to put Microsoft on top of the mobile world?

There's no doubt that Windows Phone is getting massively spanked by Apple and Android, and Gareth Beavis wonders "whether Microsoft is doing enough to really become a front running mobile OS provider." Mango should have shipped a long time ago, he argues, and the focus should have shifted to Tango, the brilliantly named successor to Mango.

Beavis argues that the problem isn't with the technology. "I think the approach is spot on, as by focusing on the UI and intuition of the phone, rather than the raw functionality, you're giving the handsets the best chance of attracting the new smartphone user that has a play with a phone in the shop, and that's a very important demographic indeed."

Where are the handsets?

The problem is with the play-in-the-shop bit. Where are the phones? "It's perplexing to see no new handsets from the big manufacturers already - I was really hoping to have a good 10-15 phones to choose from on the market to show people Microsoft was serious about the project... come on HTC, Samsung et al: let's see some cool Windows Phone models in the near future."

Perhaps Microsoft's partners have been too busy mucking around with Android: Samsung might not have a slate of Windows Phones to impress you with, but it's doing a fine job flogging Android devices such as its Galaxy smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablets. The Galaxy S2 won our prestigious phone of the year award, one of several triumphs for Android, which bagged the Best OS award by eight votes to one.

While Microsoft bets its mobile future on Mango, there's another new entrant in the mobile OS war - or at least, there might be. Mozilla has unveiled plans to create a brand new open operating system that it calls Boot To Gecko.

The aim is "to pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web", but our columnist Gary Marshall warns that that's an enormously difficult thing to pull off.

"No matter how good your tech," he writes, "you need to persuade handset manufacturers to build devices running it; you need to persuade mobile phone operators to stock and support it; you need to persuade app developers to code for it; and you need to persuade end users to buy it. Fail to win over any one of those groups and you might as well stay in bed."

He continues: "That's Nokia-scale stuff, BlackBerry-scale stuff, Microsoft-scale stuff, and even those firms are finding things difficult in mobile... Mozilla's right when it warns that the mobile web is becoming increasingly closed. But I can't help thinking that unless it gets a Google-sized backer, it's planning to bring a spud gun to a tank battle."

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.