Microsoft talks Windows Phone Tango and limitations on 256MB RAM productsAlex Wagner - Deputy Managing Editor, News Desk
Back at MWC we saw Nokia take the wraps off of the Lumia 610, its new Windows Phone device that's got 256MB of RAM and is running the "Tango" version of Microsoft's OS, which is meant to help bring lower cost Windows Phones to market. Tango brings with it lower hardware requirements to make the phones more affordable, including a drop in the required amount of RAM to just 256MB. Along with making devices more affordable, these lowered requirements also mean that Tango-powered products will have a slightly more limited feature set compared to their more powerful brothers, and now Microsoft has revealed just what limitations the devices with 256MB RAM will have placed upon them.
So what will owners of devices like the Lumia 610 miss out on? According to Microsoft, features like Bing Local Scout, background agents, fast app switching and SkyDrive automatic photo uploading will be disabled on devices with 256MB of RAM. Additionally, those phones will be unable to play back HD video that's been compressed with certain codecs or watch video podcasts. Microsoft has also given developers a few tips on how to make sure that their apps perform well on devices with 256MB of RAM, including optimizing the app's startup time and reducing memory usage as much as possible, adding that apps shouldn't exceed 90MB of memory usage.
Microsoft didn't just axe features left and right with Tango, though, as there are also a few noteworthy additions, including the ability to attach multiple photos to MMS messages and improved SIM contact management. Those new features are expected to make their way to current Windows Phones after lower memory Tango devices start coming to market in Q2 2012.
The fact that these features had to be cut for devices with 256MB of RAM is kind of a bummer, but the limitations should also help the lower memory devices to run smoothly, so it seems like it could be a decent trade-off. As I said before, new Windows Phones with 256MB of RAM are expected to begin arriving in Q2, so it should be interesting to see just how handsets like the Lumia 610 handle when they finally hit the market. Stay tuned!