During the Japanese Microsoft Developers Forum on Monday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a captive audience that the big "Mango" update planned for Windows Phone 7 will add over 500 features. He wouldn't go into specific details, leaving the Big Reveal for the New York City press event scheduled for Tuesday. Instead, he teased a possibility that Skype may be integrated into the next update.
"We have a release that will come to market later this year -- not only is it a new release that is much more global, but we've added over 500 new features to Windows Phone," said Ballmer. "That information will be forthcoming, including some of the particulars about who is going to be building Windows Phone and which carriers will be offering them in Japan."
The "Mango" update will reportedly bring the Windows Phone OS to v7.5 and provide support for multitasking, the addition of Internet Explorer 9, and better integration with Microsoft Office. Other features will include Twitter support for People Hub, an enhanced email client with better search options and email threading, means to create homescreen "tiles" from any application feature or page, and more.
"We're pushing for a different approach to user interface design, an approach which -- literally right on the homescreen of the Windows Phone -- you, our developers, can provide integrated experiences across your own and third-party applications that are alive and vibrant and real time for our joint customers," he said.
There's also a good chance Skype will be integrated into the "Mango" update. "Skype is the most popular software on the planet for people who want to do real-time video connections in addition to being very important in helping people do voice and other real-time communications," he said. "And we want to connect that up for business and consumer to all parts of the planet and continue to transform the future of communication."
Ballmer also admitted that the Windows Phone operating system arrived a year too late, saying "shame on us." Microsoft is seemingly having a hard time competing against Android and iOS, as according to numbers provided by Gartner, only 1.6 million of the 100 million smartphones sold worldwide in Q1 2011 were powered by Microsoft's Windows Phone OS.
"We're moving forward very actively," he assured the audience. That indeed seems to be the case if "Mango" really does offer over 500 additions to the mobile OS. Expect to hear more details and a possible launch date during Tuesday's press event.