Windows Phone 7 Tango Smartphones Localized for China Rumored for March Release

Smartphone users in China have more than the iPhone 4S to look forward to, as Microsoft is set to release a localized version of Windows Phone 7.6 in the country this next month.

A CES attendee tests out the Windows Phone app experience on the new Nokia Lumia 800 in the Microsoft booth at CES 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 10, 2012. (PRNewsFoto/Microsoft Corp.)

Dubbed “Tango” the update will include much-awaited updates to the Windows Phone platform, including better integration with social networking services, unified messaging, video calling, and the like. The worldwide release of Tango was meant for Microsoft to enter the low-end and midrange smartphone market, which is in contrast to the current high-end focus of Windows Phone 7 and its 7.5 “Mango” update. A subsequent update, codenamed “Apollo” will likewise focus on the high-end, and is aimed at so-called “superphones.”

Manufacturers like HTC, ZTE, LG and Nokia will be releasing Tango handsets with Chinese localization, reports The Next Web. Another report cites Lenovo to be planning a China-only Windows Phone device, although it is not included in the rumored March release.

The China-specific release of WP7 Tango will introduce a few changes to the platform, particularly with regard to the social networking integration. Since Facebook and Twitter are banned in the country, local social networks and microblogging services will take their place, including Sina Weibo. Other services, such as Tencent Weibo, Renren and Kaixin, are also likely to make an appearance.

Xbox LIVE support will be dropped from the China release, since the service is likewise banned from the country, alongside the Xbox and other gaming console systems.

Microsoft is rumored to be working out a deal with mobile distributor/retailer Suning, in its aim to tap one of the world’s biggest smartphone markets. To bolster e-commerce, this release will also include support for mobile and online payment systems, including Alibaba’s Alipay, Tencent’s Tenpay and government-sponsored Chinapay.

There is no official confirmation from Microsoft or manufacturers yet, although industry players are expected to announce new releases at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona the week of February 27.