Microsoft signs off on Windows Phone Mango

Microsoft has officially signed off on the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of “Mango” – the latest version of Windows Phone 7.

According to Microsoft rep Terry Myerson, the RTM kickoff marks the point in the development process when code is sent to handset and mobile operator partners so Mango can be optimized for specific phones and network configurations.

“Here on the Windows Phone team, we now turn to preparing for the update process,” Myerson wrote in a blog post.

“The Mango update for current Windows Phone handsets will be ready this fall, and of course will come pre-installed on new Windows Phones.”

Windows Mango – which is slated for a holiday 2011 launch – will boast over 500 new features, such as tight integration with Twitter/LinkedIn, group messaging, “pictures history,” app multitasking, enhanced 3D visual technology, expanded Xbox Live connectivity and IE9.

Clearly, the long-awaited Mango is an impressive step forward for the nascent mobile OS. 

To be sure, analysts at IDC believe Microsoft’s WP7 platform, combined with Nokia’s hardware expertise, will help the rapidly evolving operating system outpace Apple’s iPhone by 2015.

However, IDC acknowledges WP7 will initially only capture a “small share of the market,” as Mango-enabled devices are slated to hit store shelves in late 2011.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Redmond can pull off the Mango update as scheduled – without the unfortunate issues that have affected previous upgrades.