Microsoft is set to update its Windows Phone 7 platform to Tango starting March this year, with the update focusing on bringing the platform to entry-level and mid-range smartphones. Deep integration with social networking apps will also feature heavily in this release, and international markets can expect Facebook and Twitter to make an appearance not only as add-on apps, but baked right into Tango.
Sorry, No Facebook or Twitter Here
In China, however, Tango will integrate Tencent Weibo as its microblogging client. Tencent QQ Game Hall will serve as the gaming platform in lieu of Xbox LIVE.
China disallows the use of Twitter and Facebook, due to concerns with filtering and content controls. As such, services like Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo have flourished in this market. In fact, Chinese microblogging services already outnumber their western counterparts in terms of population, with 550 million users across Sina Weibo and other popular alternatives. "Weibo" is the Chinese equivalent of "microblog."
China also bans the Xbox LIVE service, along with the sale of console gaming systems throughout the mainland.
Biggest Mobile Market in the World
Microsoft is banking on the popularity of Tencent services in the region, which can help boost the Windows Phone 7 user base. It can be noted that China's mobile population has reached 1 billion users -- with at least 118 million using mobile broadband connections via 3G.
As such, tight integration with local social networking services can help Microsoft gain inroads into this market currently dominated by Android and iOS. Tencent might also get a boost, which can help its microblogging service grab some market share from the Sina Weibo, which is currently leading in terms of the number of accounts, at 300 million users.
Aside from social networking integration, the Tango update is also rumored to include video-calling, which is an offshoot of Microsoft's acquisition of Skype in 2011. There is question, though, whether this feature will likewise make it to the Chinese variant of Windows Phone 7.5.
Tango in China will also support mobile payment systems, including Alibaba's AliPay, Tencent's TenPay and even government-sanctioned Chinapay.
At Mobile World Congress, Microsoft confirmed that all Windows Phone 7 devices will get the Tango update by April 2012. Said release will still be called Windows Phone 7.5 and not 7.6, as media have earlier reported.