Windows Phone 7 has a serious amount of catching up to do both in market share and with apps if it wants to seriously compete with the iPhone and the App Store, but we’ve always seen the handheld as a promising contender. Part of that reason has to do with its Games Hub, which is essentially a mobile take on Xbox Live. It’s packed with promise, and Microsoft has continued to take the steps in the right direction. Today’s news is a good example of that: the next release of Windows Phone 7, Mango, will allow in-app purchases and add-on content. This is huge, as we all know free-to-play is a meaningful mobile model.

There’s more, of course. In the Fall-bound update, Microsoft will introduce badges that you can put on your avatar after earning certain achievements. Also, it’s bulking up its network support, cleaning up the UI in a significant way by introducing sensible views and blades, and it’s integrating a lot of Xbox Live “Extras” into the actual Hub. If you really want to dive into the nitty-gritty, this blog post and this earlier blog post on the Windows Phone Blog both break it all down pretty well, canned as it is.

In addition to the former stuff, Microsoft has also announced a bunch of new games slated to hit the platform within the next few months. Most of them are unknown to us, but if you have a 360 or a Kinect, these two brands might ring a bell: Toy Soldiers and Kinectimals. Yeah, mobile versions of these titles are coming. Can you hear me shrugging? I’m shrugging.

It strikes me as weird that we’re still in a wait and watch stance on Windows Phone 7 a year or so out of release, but the platform still doesn’t feel as robust as Microsoft wants it to be. Updates like this, though, are definitely a sign of solid progress.

  • Danny Perski

    Windows Phone has always looked great, with the XBL support and all. Too bad there isn't an iPod touch like device running on Windows Phone 7, I would pick one up. I have an iPhone, that isn't changing. 

    • MicroByte

      I was going to make a comment about the exact same thing. Given the inclusion of Xbox Live and the slick Zune interface, I would instantly add this as a companion to my iPod Touch in a heartbeat.  I'm wondering if any company will take a shot.  Pair this with a comparable price point and I'd bite.

      • Anonymous

        It sounds like what we all want is a Zune with the new capability of Windows Phone 7. Time for a Zune refresh?

      • Watonya

        I actually purchased a Windows Phone 7 because I wanted the Zune interface with the WP7 abilities.  I took the sim card out and use the phone as my mp3 player, download apps and browse the internet one wi-fi.  It is awesome to have, but does need a few key features added or enabled on it.

    • Luke Greene

      You should really consider it. I had an iPhone 3GS and managed to sell it for the asking price of an Omnia 7. Even without Mango, the OS is far superior. Go try one out in a store and see what you think. You won't be dissapointed.

      • Ghouly

        i literally did the same thing, Omnia 7 professional style with Win 7 OS made me switch. ill never go back too Apples current aging iOS/OSX GUI.

        Windows phone 7 OS is definitely superior API and the development software is are a lot better, although costly for full features.

        BUT! until the tegra hardware is utilized with the OS for future releases and yes its coming. We wont see a major shift in 3rd party support or gains in popularity.

        (Microsoft brought 30%+ of Nvidia for this reason and future of XBOX. they also have a costly agreement with in Nokia for next several years product line. Nokia's hardware has always been amazingly rugged)

  • Anonymous

    cool, now Lodys can target WP 7 developers too. 🙁

  • Mwhite67

    The Zune of phones.

  • Guest

    all i want to see in the next update is the ability to update ,my out-of-office settings for Exchange/Outlook client.

  • Killerbees

    Android phones walk all over Windows phone garbage.

    • Al

      Lol, @ your buggy, fragmented, malware infected andriod rubbish. WP7 mango will leave your nasty OS in the dust.

    • jrb

      @killerbees - anyone who says something like this has obviously not had the joy of using, or even trying a wp7 device. the technically the current batch of wp7 devices aren't as fast as most android devices, but they still runs a lot smoother than any android device i've ever seen.

    • Luke Greene

      Wrong. Reasons are obviously not necessary, so I won't bother.

  • Robert McCrory

    Biggest problem with windows phone 7 - the games all cost at least 3 times as much as they do on iPhone and since there isn't a single manufacturer you get some games that run better on some phones than others. I had 2 wp7 phones because i like xbox live, but came back to iOS after being frustrated with them for those reasons.

  • Hmar9333

    Can't wait for Mango. I really hope Windows Phone does become one of the major OSs, because it's just such a pleasant OS to use. All it really needs is more apps, which should come soon, especially if WP really starts gaining speed (which I feel it will after the Mango update and Nokia phone release).

  • Anonymous

    It's amazing that Microsoft is doesn't have a WP7 based tablet in the market right now. I think they could outsell Android in that space if they made something with some heavy Xbox branding.

  • William F.X. O'Neill

    wp7 is far more enjoyable than android

  • Joe

    Actually Toy Soldiers is an excellent IP on XBLA. In fact I'm really hyped for the second one releasing in a few days. 

    Recommend it to any Xbox owner...

  • Ashand

    WP7 sucks in its present form, The promised update will be yet another vapourware. update and will probably be full of errors

  • Myker

    I've owned a Windows 7 Phone for a while (HTC HD7), and I've been pleasantly surprised by how slick and smooth it feels, and I think Microsoft was smart to integrate features into the sweet spots, such as social networking, live tiles, Xbox, etc. It's also the most stable phone OS I've had the privilege of using. Never frozen, never needed to reboot, never slow or bogged down. It feels efficient and doesn't get in my way. I use about 25 apps regularly... and I think that 30,000 apps to choose from is plently. I previously had a Droid, and I'm never going back. The only thing Microsoft was not smart about was naming it "Windows", since Windows has a lot of baggage and bad history.