WP7: Mango beta process detailed, delay explained, new unannounced features

This week has been a rollercoaster ride for Microsoft with Windows Phone 7. Firstly, the company distributed limited devices to the press for review, then Neowin uncovered news that the Mango beta was due this week. Today, we have uncovered news on why the delay happened, how the update process will work and new features that are likely to be included in the beta.

There's an eery silence coming from Microsoft this week, with normally noisy internal messaging boards and distribution lists going quiet about Mango and staff being unwilling to comment on the beta or Mango itself since the reviews went live. Neowin was contacted by a source inside Microsoft (who obviously did not want to be named) that told us that there was an issue with the build that was to be released this week. Apparently, the build that was to be released had a faulty upgrade script that pointed to a Microsoft Corporate file share, which would not work outside the company, which inevitably caused the delay. Our source says that after the delay, we should expect to see the "AppHub release within a week."

In addition to this, he suggested there is a lot of uproar within the company (remember that all Microsoft employees should have a Windows Phone device) that the company will not be giving its employees access to Mango until it goes public to AppHub next week. The source goes on to say that the company is now testing the working update process, and details it: "[The update process is a] Zune software update and an executable that makes some changes to the registry to get the Zune software to look at the right place for the pre-release updates. It's a series of two updates, just like Nodo."

According to the source, "the only guaranteed update path from this pre-Mango to the final Mango will be to revert back to the backup made by the pre-Mango update, since carrier-approved updates will only be made to carrier-stamped versions on the phone." This means that the update should be performed on a PC that you know you'll have access to in a few months time. Risky business.

New features were also coined by our source, ones that we suspect Microsoft has put under NDA with the other press reviews as they want to be able to reveal them at will. The source said that there were many camera enhancements, one of which being a feature where if you touch the item on the screen that you want to photograph, the phone will attempt to focus on that as best it can. In addition, theres a "phone lock delay" finally, which means you can do something similar to the iPhone where if you have a PIN set you only need to enter it every 15 minutes or another predefined interval. Also, apparently the "audio stutters" that are found in NoDo and the RTM build have been resolved.

For developers, we're hearing there are many under the hood improvements, including "list controls now being populated and scroll in a separate thread", and all image loading in list based controls os automatically handled in the background." 

Our source says that the build he tried was the same as the review ones; 7661.WP7_5_Trial. We're looking forward to hearing more in the next week about the Mango pre-release.

Update: It looks like PocketNow covered some of the features we mentioned. If you want to see them in action, check them out here.

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