Microsoft promised a “big day” for Windows Phone 7, with a “juicy surprise” on the way. We were speculating that this finally may be the time for Microsoft to release its Mango beta update to developers, giving many their first opportunity to evaluate their software on real hardware running Mango.
Earlier, Microsoft had said that concern over the ability of developers to later downgrade their smartphones back to stable NoDo was forcing it to hold off on distributing a Mango update; apparently, it’s managed to allay those fears, kicking off the Mango early access program today. Registered WP7 developers will start getting invitations, letting them access the Mango update tools. While this version of the operating system doesn’t reflect all the features that will be present in the final release later this year, this should still prove an invaluable tool to developers coding for the platform.
In addition to this software Mango release, Microsoft is distributing WP7 handsets with Mango pre-installed to select developers, letting them develop code using the new hardware features in upcoming WP7 devices. The company is trying to encourage college-age students to get involved with WP7 development through its DreamSpark program, giving them access to the beta Mango update, as well as through a contest offering them the chance to get one of these developer models; 50 will be distributed to winners.
So, it’s a good day for Windows Phone, but we can’t help but feel some of the collective jealousy of a user base who has seen so many Mango features teased, and now know that developers have access to the software that most of us won’t be able to touch for several more months. We think Microsoft put it pretty well, when addressing developers: “First, go get the tools. Second, update your retail phones to Mango. Third, go rub it in your friends’ faces that you have Mango and they don’t.”