What developers can expect from Windows Phone Tango--and beyond

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With Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) expected to unveil its Windows Phone 7.6 update at February's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, rumors and speculation about the overhaul--codenamed "Tango"--are beginning to swirl. Widely believed to help Windows Phone run on low-cost devices, Tango reportedly slashes the operating system's RAM requirement in half to 256MB, according to The Verge--sources also say the update will include Start Screen folder support and a revamped UI for built-in media controls.

But at a Windows Phone developer camp this weekend in India, a Microsoft executive reportedly revealed Windows Phone Tango will support an additional 120 international languages, roughly triple the number in the current Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, a revelation that lends credence to speculation the new update will push the platform into the developing markets so critical to Microsoft partner Nokia (NYSE:NOK). Moreover, Microsoft program manger Vikram Sharma allegedly announced developers will be able to build future Windows Phone apps using C++ native coding. The Verge adds the original source of the information, the WP Sauce blog, was asked by Microsoft to remove its report and complied with the request--read into that what you will.  

In fact, with so many people talking about Windows Phone's evolution, Microsoft is setting the record straight on at least one rumor, confirming Windows Phone 8 (codename: "Apollo") will support apps written for WP7 despite conjecture to the contrary. Windows Phone 7 director Brandon Watson cleared up the confusion via Twitter, stating "Rewatch Mix11 keynote. We were pretty clear on this. Any app built today will run on next major Windows Phone version."

It goes without saying that Microsoft has a lot riding on Windows Phone's immediate future. While public interest in the platform remains negligible, developer interest is on the upswing according to independent technology analyst Ovum's second annual Developer Insights survey. "The growing momentum behind Windows Phone indicates that Microsoft has managed to convince developers that its platform is worthy of investment; its challenge now is to persuade consumers," said Ovum devices and platforms practice leader Adam Leach in a statement. How Microsoft will do that is anyone's guess, but keeping developers in the loop on Windows Phone's progress definitely can't hurt.--Jason  

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