Microsoft’s Mango Nails It

Microsoft hasn’t had much luck in mobile phones. Try as it might, the company has never escaped also-ran status on this front. However, based on the early reviews of Windows Phone 7.5 — formerly known as Mango — I think that’s about to change.

What the critics say

The software is unfinished, but so far, the reviewer response has ranged from cautiously optimistic — I don’t think CNET is capable of joy — to downright giddy. It seems that Microsoft has set out to delight its customers. The Wall Street Journal described the new operating system as “a mix of elegance and whimsy that’s a treat to use.” And Gizmodo’s reviewer said, “It’s almost like the phone is happy to be alive. Which kind of makes you feel happy to use it.”

I’ve only seen pictures and videos, but I understand what the reviewers mean. Applications swing in and out of view as if you’re opening and closing doors. Click an email thread, and it pops open. It gives the impression that when you navigate around the device, you’re moving through a real space — like some kind of ever-shifting funhouse.

It looks as if Microsoft has actually crafted an innovative product here. Instead of apps, the Start Screen features an improved version of the live tiles — customizable boxes that change depending on the app they represent — that were introduced in WP7. In addition to the obvious tiles — email, messages, and the like — you can assign a tile to display the weather or keep you up to date on your friends’ Facebook and Twitter activities. You can also pin things such as apps, playlists, and pictures to the home screen for quick access

via Microsoft’s Mango Nails It (AAPL, GOOG, HPQ, MSFT, NOK, RIMM).

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