Microsoft eases Mango hardware requirements

In an effort to drum up more enthusiasm from manufacturers about the latest version of Windows Phone, Microsoft has relaxed the requirements for licensing the software.

Just as Mango begins to roll out to the market, Microsoft may be realizing that it isn’t generating as much of a splash as it had expected. The new version of Windows Phone, also known as Windows Phone 7.5, brings a lot of new and exciting features to the table but it’s still hard to tear away manufacturers and consumers from the increasingly familiar Android and iPhone environment.

As such, Microsoft has rescinded its requirements that manufacturers must have a gyroscope, front-facing camera, and compass in order to let their devices run Windows Phone Mango. In fact, a phone no longer needs to have any camera at all. Requirements for an accelerometer and GPS functionality remain.

On the technical side, Microsoft still requires all Mango phones to have at least 256 MB of RAM, a 4-point multi-touch, and support for Wi-Fi and mobile data.

The changes come as Windows Phone is most likely poised to round out another year without much enthusiasm from consumers, at a time when Microsoft was deeply hoping for a holiday sales bump.

What may provide that bump is when Nokia handsets powered by Windows Phone start popping up in territories like the US and Europe. Although Nokia’s persistent focus on its own proprietary operating system pushed it out of the smartphone race in most regions around the world, the company retains a masterful grasp on handset design and ergonomics, and with Windows Phone springing Nokia back into the important markets, it could be a boost that both companies need.