Microsoft is currently offering Windows Phone 7 developers early access to Mango.
The latest iteration of the operating system is expected to help Redmond in its effort to gain mobile market share from both Apple (iOS) and Google (Android).
To be sure, senior IDC researcher Ramon Llamas recently estimated that WP7 is theoretically capable of claiming more than a 20% market share by 2015 – well behind Android but ahead of iOS.
Although Microsoft is still working out some “final kinks,” company rep Brandon Watson confirmed Mango’s distribution infrastructure will be fully operational over the next couple of weeks.
“This build of Mango should also be viewed as beta quality, so there are still consumer features missing, but you can now start building apps and testing them against retail devices,” Watson wrote in an official blog post.
“… Now is the perfect time to see what you can do with Windows Phone. Start building your Mango apps using some of the cool new functionality like fast app resume, updated Live Tiles, Motion Sensor, Live Agents, sockets, background audio or raw camera access.”
Interested? If you are already running the NoDo build, Windows Phone Developer Tools Beta 2 can be downloaded here.
However, please note that a number of devs have identified certain issues with the Mango beta, including firmware installer crashes.
“It turns out this is due to the wrong version of the firmware updater, named UpdateWP.exe, being installed,” explained Peter Bright of Ars Technica.
“To fix this problem, delete the incorrect version from the Zune program directory, then reinstall the updater. That’ll fix things up and the firmware update can proceed.”
Despite the above-mentioned issue, Bright termed the early release of Mango for devs a “great move” by Microsoft.
“Access to beta firmware running on real hardware is invaluable for development and testing – it’s something widely enjoyed by iOS developers – but initially in Windows Phone’s life, it wasn’t clear Microsoft would be able to give this kind of access, due to the variety of different models on the market.
“[In contrast], this release shows that most, if not all, of the kinks of the upgrade process have been ironed out, and the future looks very bright indeed,” he added.