MWC 2012 turned out to be the Microsoft show, and there were even a couple of new Windows Phone 7 devices unveiled. Mobile World Congress may be most remembered for not having debuted the iPad 3 or the Samsung Galaxy S3, but for Microsoft fans, it was show they may never forget. The Windows 8 beta debuted, and it gave Windows Phone 7 consumers something to look forward to. Additionally, Microsoft previewed a Windows Phone update, codenamed Tango, and it was this development that helps paint a clear picture of where Microsoft is going in 2012.
Tango, and indeed the phones that debuted at MWC 2012, are aimed squarely at Windows users who either do not have a smartphone, are upgrading from a feature phone or cannot afford $100 devices. All the hype and media attention goes to the most expensive devices, but Microsoft obviously sees an opportunity in the world of low-cost devices. Microsoft has famously teamed with Nokia, the worlds largest maker of mobile phones, and millions of those devices are feature phones. Microsoft looks to be guiding those feature phone and budget buyers toward their devices, and a seamless Windows 8 transition could be the way to do it. By providing a system that looks and feels the same on the desktop as it does on a smartphone, Microsoft may be in prime position to take over at least part of the smartphone world in 2013.
There is no date given for when Windows 8 will debut on smartphones, but it will likely be by the end of the year. Nokia announced the Lumia 610 at MWC, and ZTE announced the Orbit. Both would be able to take advantage of the new Tango software update because Windows Phone 7 is now compatible with lower powered devices. Smartphones with only 256 megabytes of memory can now run the software, and high-powered apps in the Marketplace will be marked so people don't download things that won't run on their phone.
The Nokia Lumia 610 is still a prototype, but it has a WVGA display, 800 MHz processor and 256 megabytes of memory. The Orbit is a 4-inch display device with a bit faster of a processor and five megapixel camera. There is no word yet on pricing or availability on either. Tell us in the comments if you've tried out Windows 8 and if you think it will be an improvement over Windows Phone 7.