Microsoft Corp. stepped up its battle for a share of the smartphone market by releasing the Mango update for its Windows Phone operating system.
The update, which integrates voice commands into a variety of functions and unifies personal messaging services, was released to manufacturers Wednesday.
In a blog post, Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of Windows Phone engineering, said the update is aimed at creating a "smarter and easier approach to communications."
Mango raises the ante in mobile multitasking by enabling users to email, listen to music and even drop into an online game without having to shuttle between applications, making Mango Microsoft's best weapon yet against Apple Inc.'s iPhone and phones running Google Inc.'s Android operating system.
It also provides a technology boost for Nokia Corp., Microsoft's leading phone manufacturing partner that has been losing market share to Apple and Google.
"With the Mango update, Microsoft's operating system is arguably on a par with both iPhone and Android," wrote Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf in a note to clients. "So if Nokia can hold for two more quarters, the company has a chance to reclaim a position among the three leading platforms."
Microsoft has taken steps to make phones running Mango truly different. For example, addresses for email, instant messaging, phone numbers and Twitter and Facebook accounts are all under a person's name, not separate applications.
Mango also integrates voice recognition and control for dialing or searches. Users can launch a search through a button on the phone and either by typing or voice commands, from any application. A new feature called Scout shows information in the user's area, with links to reviews for places of interest.
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