When I held my first presentation about Windows Phone (November 2010), I didn't even own one. I think I did a good job anyway, but many things got much clearer the first day I got my first Windows Phone device. At the time, WP was missing a lot of things, especially compared to all the other mobile devices, but that didn't turn me away. I knew that the guys at Microsoft knew how to make a copy-paste function or how to make threads in e-mail view, and that it was just a matter of time when all that would be implemented. And now that I've been invited to install the Mango update as a developer, I feel like this is definitely the best mobile OS ever. And here's why!
The first moment I installed Mango I've noticed many small changes. The lock screen now falls better when you pull it up and let go. The volume bar now shows larger volume values. The live tiles are improved - the People tile now shows much more, and in a much better and more dynamic way. The application list now allows searching which becomes very useful when you have a lot of applications, but if it isn't enough - you can pick a starting letter of the application you need, and it takes you right there, just like a dictionary! When you take pictures during the locked phone, you can still browser the ones you took in that session - no need to unlock your phone. Settings offer some new interesting stuff like detailed information about battery plus a battery saver mode, which is really great, because with only one switch you can turn off all the mail synchronisations and stuff that drain battery, but still keep the basic functionality on - this kept my phone alive yesterday when my battery was almost empty. :)
There are many more cosmetic changes, which are hard to describe in words. Unfortunately, I am unable to put screenshots in this post because that option still doesn't exist on a Windows Phone. But the team must be aware of people wanting this option, so in my opinion it's just a matter of time when it'll be available to us. At least it's available in the latest Emulator, which will be very useful to all the developers.
But the cosmetic changes are not the only ones. They are even not the most important ones. Everyone heard of the new multitasking features that Mango brings. And yes, they're here. Simply hold the back button, and you get all the background applications. Unfortunately, the background color is the one you chose as your theme, so it can get annoying if you chose, for example, lime. I'd personally put black there, and perhaps just a slim frame around each background app in the theme colour, which I consider a much elegant solution, but unfortunately I am not in the Windows Phone team and I don't get to decide what's better. :)
Besides the background apps, we now have the improved version of Internet Explorer, IE9, which is faster and renders pages much much better. The Marketplace is improved, and now offers a better way of browsing the apps. The Maps application has more options, and even offers directions. The mail client brings threaded view, and the whole phone is better integrated with social networks - you can now tweet without installing the Twitter application, and you can even use Windows Live for messaging, right out of the box! It's so seamlessly integrated, that you have the feeling that the phone is there to help you spend less time with it. Sounds convoluted, but this is the philosophy of the Windows Phone, and I love it! And it works faster than the previous version running on the same hardware!
I've used Windows on my phones since the Windows Mobile back in 2004 (I think it even had Pocket PC version installed). I've also used iPhone, and I can safely say that I would never go back to the "applications-in-a-NxN-grid operating systems". They are boring, and they make you spend too much time to do the basic stuff. I believe in the quality of many Microsoft products, but Windows Phone is definitely my favourite. The Team obviously listens to users and developers, which makes me confident that in future releases there will be even less fumbling, and even more capturing!