Microsoft is planning to support near field communication (NFC) technologies in its next-generation Windows Phone hardware, according to reports.
The software giant is currently readying its latest hardware specifications and intends to unveil its NFC plans at the upcoming MIX11 developer conference next month. Bloomberg news agency reports that the company plans to use NFC as part of a mobile payment system. The first handsets will be available later this year, based on the Windows Phone 7.x “Mango” update.
Google is also believed to be readying an Android NFC payment system alongside MasterCard and Citigroup. The company originally introduced NFC hardware in its Nexus S device, introduced late last year. Microsoft’s plans will allow users to simply bump their device against a compatible cash register in retail stores. The company currently holds 14 NFC related patents, according to the U.S. Patent Office.
The software giant is currently hard at work on “Mango”, its next major release of Windows Phone. Microsoft has promised to ship “Mango” later in the year. “Mango”, the codename for what will likely be named Windows Phone 7.5, is currently in the early beta stages at Microsoft. The company revealed a number of new features in February that will ship as part of its Windows Phone point release later this year. Nokia is also reportedly waiting for the next release of Windows Phone before it unveils its first Windows Phone device.
Mango” currently contains multitasking, Internet Explorer 9 mobile and Twitter integration. Microsoft’s unveiling in Mobile World Congress ties up some of the unknowns with “Mango” but only scrapes the surface of what the release will contain. The emergence of a special developers day confirms that Microsoft plans to share a lot more information on future Windows Phone plans in May. WinRumors spoke to Achim Berg, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Marketing, at Mobile World Congress and he confirmed that the forthcoming changes are part of a platform release. Berg confirmed that the company is currently working on when and how they will unveil more information about “Mango”. Microsoft will unveil further information about the Internet Explorer 9 mobile component at MIX11 in April but Berg says the company will also offer more tid bits after that. Berg hinted that this could be around the May time-frame and that Microsoft didn’t want to unveil too much too soon in case “competitors copied us”.
Microsoft is planning to mark Windows Phone 7′s first birthday with a platform release to upgrade functionality and re-brand the platform to a point release (think Windows Phone 7.5). Berg refused to confirm the final branding at Mobile World Congress, but did suggest that the changes are big enough to warrant a new release and point increment. Although Microsoft is still working on the release, codenamed “Mango”, the software giant is expected to brand it as Windows Phone 7.5 as an interim before the platform is aligned neatly into Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.