Windows Phone Tango is the platform refresh expected to land by mid-2012 aiming to bring Windows Phone to the masses. We’ve heard rumors of Tango lowering the bar in terms of specs in areas like RAM for instance, where 256MB are mentioned. Truth of the matter is that the current Windows Phone hardware requirements already require “256 MB (or more) of RAM“. However, the addition of 85 languages for a total of 120 can bring the platform to the masses.
Paul Thurrott believes Tango will be called Windows Phone 7.5.1 and it will mark a shift in Microsoft’s policy. Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) followed by Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) will coexist with Tango, thus creating a fragmentation. In this status quo applications will need special certification for Tango’s lower hardware specifications which will not run some high-end applications from the market. For instance, Thurrott notes: “I’m told that some high-end games such as “Plants vs. Zombies” won’t work, for example, while others such as “Angry Birds” will run normally.”
Will these quantity (Tango) and quality (Mango followed by Apollo) directions work out for Microsoft? Tango users will be able to browse the app catalogue in the Markeplace but won’t be able to download and run higher-end apps and games. Developers will need to choose either Tango, Mango/Apollo or both. A new Windows Phone SDK is reportedly expected to land sometime by April to help developers test out applications on lower-memory environments as well as the Mango specs.
Is Microsoft preparing to have two distinct platforms on the market? If Windows Phone Tango will remain unchanged and Apollo will take Mango’s place, it will definitely look that way. From the Windows Phone 8 leak we’ve learned that Apollo will share many key aspects with the desktop and tablet OS. Two basically different platforms won’t definitely mean fragmentation. However, if Microsoft will be marketing the two iterations as one product, though with the freedom of choice, then we’re definitely facing fragmentation.
From the user’s perspective, when picking up a cheaper, lower-end Tango smartphone in emerging countries, the number of compatible apps will be smaller than the number of total titles in the Marketplace. Also, developers will want to support the larger user base in order to sell their applications, in the detriment of Tango (we’re talking about those apps which by themselves and their construction can’t work on Tango. The situation could turn to their benefit for those apps that will be compatible on both systems though).
Do you think Microsoft is doing the wise thing (if reports turn out to be true)?