Windows Phone ‘Mango’ Goes Live, Apps Hit the Web

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“Mango,” the major Windows Phone update that Microsoft has been promising for seven months, is going live.

The update to Windows Phone 7.5 is now rolling out to all handsets on Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. On AT&T, delivery has begun for the HTC Surround, LG Quantum and Samsung Focus version 1.3. These rollouts may take several weeks to reach all phones. Microsoft’s Windows Phone update page has the full details.

(MORE: Top 10 Features in Windows Phone’s ‘Mango’ Update)

Users will receive a notification on their phones when the update is ready. After that, they’ll have to connect the phone to a computer and use either the Zune software or Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac to get the update. The process takes about an hour, and users may have to clear some space on their phones and computers to make room for Mango.

Mango brings much-needed features to Windows Phones, including multitasking, Internet Explorer 9, a unified e-mail inbox, turn-by-turn navigation and speech-to-text. The update also includes some unique features, such as a local “scout” for finding nearby points of interest and unified messaging across SMS, Facebook and Windows Live. The new “Groups” feature, which clumps your favorite people’s messages and status updates into a single view, also sounds useful.

Coinciding with today’s Mango launch, Microsoft has created a website for Windows Phone apps. Anyone can peruse the website, and Windows Phone users can sign in to purchase apps. But unlike Google’s Android Market website, which can trigger remote downloads on users’ phones, the Windows Marketplace website only sends an SMS or e-mail with a download link. (CORRECTION: The Windows Marketplace can trigger over-the-air downloads on Windows Phones.)

If you’re not a Windows Phone owner, but the big update has piqued your interest, I recommend holding out for some new hardware. AT&T has announced a trio of Windows Phones preloaded with Mango, and T-Mobile plans to release the HTC Radar, although neither carrier has confirmed pricing or release dates. Nokia has also been quiet lately about its Windows Phone plans, but the company has promised to launch at least one handset by year-end. LG may still have some Windows Phones in the works as well.

MORE: Can Microsoft Get Its Mojo Back?