Microsoft’s Mango Starts Rolling: Updates To Hit Phones Over Next Few Weeks

Microsoft’s first major update to Windows Phone 7 began to roll out to users Tuesday, rewarding early adopters before new phones are expected to be released from Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and others running the Mango update. Current owners can expect to see an update message over the next couple of weeks as carriers and handset makers add their own software to the update.

Mango, officially known as Windows Phone 7.5, brings several new features to Windows Phone 7 handsets, such as multitasking, better Web browsing, and a redesigned communications hub. Unfortunately for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), many of the features rolling out with the new update are commonplace on iOS and Android devices, but it’s still a big step forward for the platform and its hopes of actually generating some momentum among consumers.

Microsoft said that while it plans to roll the update out to just about every wireless carrier and handset maker in its orbit as of Tuesday (a clear shot at Android’s glacial pace of updates), it will still take a few weeks for all the updates to reach all the phones as Microsoft makes sure that the process goes smoothly. That’s still quite faster than the way Android updates are distributed: as of earlier this month, slightly more than half of all Android users were running Android 2.2, which was released well over a year ago.

There are quite a few more Android phones in the wild, of course. Microsoft’s bid at reinventing its mobile strategy has been well-received by designers and reviewers but it hasn’t really translated into volume yet. That may change once the first Nokia Windows Phone 7 devices emerge at some point later this year, but new Android phones will emerge later this year alongside a new iPhone.