Skip to main content

Windows Phone "Tango" limitations officially confirmed

Microsoft has been busy updating the official Windows Phone website to include details surrounding new features and limitations that will be introduced with Windows Phone "Tango". LiveSide has rounded up all the restrictions that will be placed on handsets that sport 256MB RAM - the revised system requirement which will introduce low-end budget devices.

  • Windows Phone Marketplace app restrictions – Some processor-intensive apps have memory requirements, and will not work on phones with 256 MB of RAM.
  • Podcast Subscriptions and Video Podcasts – You won't be able to manage podcast subscriptions on your phone or watch video podcasts.
  • Local Scout – You won't be able to use Bing Local Scout services.
  • Fast app switching – Fast app switching (multitasking) will be disabled.
  • SkyDrive automatic photo upload – SkyDrive photo automatic uploading will be disabled.
  • HD video playback – Inability to play video compressed with some of the listed codecs.
  • Background agents – To free up RAM for the foreground on 256MB devices, generic background agents (PeriodicTasks / ResourceIntensiveTasks) are disabled.

As well as the above limitations, there have been a number of improvements seen in previously leaked photos of "Tango" that include multiple file attachments in SMS, ability to record and send voice / video clips, and the recently revealed location services alert icon.

Microsoft has also published a new blog entry for developers, which goes into some detail surrounding the issue of optimising apps for the lower system specifications. From improving startup time and lowering memory usage to handling feature reductions. Mike Battista, who wrote the blog article, also recommends developers make use of the 256MB emulator in the SDK to test the app with identical runtime behaviour as a 256MB sporting device.

Source: Windows Phone Team Blog, via: LiveSide

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I don't even know what features are left; these phones will be useless.
  • Yes, even sacrifice of fast application switching and background tasks will be hard, I guess! Especially background tasks are very improtant I think because they usually update Live Tiles which are the number one feature of Windows Phone!
  • Pushing to live tiles is NOT related to background tasks.
  • No big deal... It will be just like NoDo in terms of no multitasking / background tasks... We all coped with that! The other removed features are extremely unimportant.
  • You need to realize that these phones are targeted at a completely different audience. I can guarantee you this phone will sell like hot cakes in India, where I live. There are a lot of people who really don't give a damn about things like local scout, fast app switching, etc. My sister uses an Omnia W, which was a birthday gift, and all she does on that is play solitaire, message and call. Tango phones will be perfect for people like her.
  • Totally Disagree....
    Until they add Bluetooth file transfer no WP will sell like hot cakes (My friends tell my NL710 a crap, because it does not have this BIG features). Add Symbian like features and it will sell like HOT CAKES GLOBALLY. (and remove that f....g 20MB download limit using 3g/2g, here in India finding WiFi is very hard). ADD BFT......EVERYONE HAPPY.
  • Just don't seem fair to limit it but it's still badass hardware for Nokia and good for the PC kings money talks bullshit walks lol
  • Ok so tango would be perfect for kids
  • You can't watch video podcasts? I think they went a little too far with these limitations.
  • Does anyone watch video podcasts? :P
  • Yes.
  • 256MB RAM devices cannot stream podcasts. They can still be synced to the device via Zune (or the Win8 equivalent).
  • Ok good. I knew they weren't that crazy.
  • Pizzalovinhulk nailed it.... These phones would be great for your middle schooler
  • I hope Microsoft says you can't sell tango phones in first world countries
  • I hope they can. These would be perfect for frustrated Android users on pre-paid plans.
  • I certainly hope the Lumia 610 will be available in the US. My eleven year old would love this device. It would also be great for my mother. Even my wife would be satisfied with it if she thought it was pretty enough, which it most certainly is.
    The 610 is killer in many ways, just not the ways people that comment here value.
  • I really think they should call it something else, like Windows Phone LITE. These phones will just not be able to do so many things and people who are new to WP or seeing it on other peoples phones will not really know what it is capable of
  • Good point. Hope it doesn't bring negativity to WP
  • As long as the base user experience runs well I doubt that Tango will bring negativity to the platform. look at this way cheapo android phones that run terribly dont bring down android's name. if the user can do the base functions smoothly with no lags or hiccups, then might be willing to spring for a more expensive model to get those extra features.
  • But all android phones run poorly...
  • That makes it useless.. Its like WP 7.0 all over again :(
  • Tango should be ok for low-end users. Users of that market isn't present here:)
  • Well, given that roughly 60 of all cell phone users are feature phone users, I think the market is present globally.  And here in the U.S., Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile are still in business, so there is definitely a market for these devices; however, the Tango devices, at least for now, are being targeted for emerging markets (i.e. Africa, India, etc.).
  • No one is forcing us to buy them. At least they are acknowledging the limitations of a 256mb memory system unlike android that tries to do 'everything' but fails across the board. Ever play with an 'economic' android? *shudder*
  • I don't think it's bad for people who use their phones just for the basics. I know my dad and younger brother would enjoy these phones even with all the limitations. They wouldn't use half the stuff found in WP so it's a smart move because prices on these phones would be very affordable all while remaining smooth as butter.
  • Honestly these phones will be no better than your average dumbphones. What will happen when these are sold to first time users who then find out they can't do most things a smartphone is supposed to do? They will be returned and users will move to another phone and it WON'T be a Nokia or MS device. This is an epic fail! Bad move by MS!
  • Not necessarily. I know people who wouldn't multitask or use local scout. Why do you assume everyone needs to multitask? Listen to podcasts? Upload photos to SkyDrive? My parents love the look of windows phone, unlimited music from Zune, and love how simple they are to use. They can care less about playing games such as Splinter Cell and NFS. They would never multitask either. I don't know about u but I believe the more choice the better. As long as they don't run as slow as most android devices do.
  • The native OS live tiles (like Me Tile, Group Tile etc) will continue works or not like the third party apps?? The weather apps will be sucks in Tango cells!!
  • Oh Em Gee!  All of these comments complaining about these specs...Do you people realize that these devices (and this Tango update) is specifically targeted to, and for, emerging markets?  Emerging markets! 
    It's either Tango devices, or Windows Phone marketshare remains a pittance.  Besides, people with miniscule income shouldn't be denied the opportunity to experience Windows Phone - these Tango devices gives them said opportunity.
  • Most people commenting won't ever have to worry about not being able to afford the top end hand sets :P
  • they dont realize because they dont have the ability to, thats why there are these complaints.
  • [Citation Needed]
  • Metro pcs,boost,virgin,simple mobile... Perfect....!!! 3rd world country yes sir
  • a majority of US minorities are on those networks, to refer to them as a 3rd world country is potentially racist
  • I think a lot of people are missing the point. The phone is intended to be scaled-down and feature light. It's an introduction to smart phones for people like "grandma and grandpa" who don't care about streaming YouTube or any of that. They use the phone for a portable photo album to show off pictures of the grandkids and to make phone calls. Not to replace all of the electronics in their houses.
  • I think it's hilarious that Microsoft has not used the word Tango in their media communications and yet we are openly using that word as if it was official, LOL! Was the same true for Mango? I can't remember.
  • The term "Mango" was official. "Tango I and II" was stated by Microsoft, but it was several months ago. They've been very careful not to use the term lately.
  • Are these limitations only for low-end phones? Cuz not having multitasking just sounds stupendous
  • Yes, low-end only.
  • I really don't see why people are getting upset. All of the removed features are only  for the 256 MB / Low-Spec phones. Podcasts, scout, auto-upload & HD playback are all unimportant / non-essential. We all coped during pre-mango times without fast switching & background tasks, so I don't think those users will be disadvantaged much. I believe most live tiles will still work with push notifications.
    So all in all these low-spec phones will still do almost everything our current phones do, and doesn't effect current WP7 users in the slightest. So what's the issue?
  • I understand that there may be a demand for that type/style of phone. However for me personally they are taking away features I literally use everyday. Needless to say I was amazingly disappointed to read this, and not as excited anymore.
  • They're only taking away the features if you buy the phone.  So here's the simple solution: don't buy the damn phone.  Keep using a high end handset and you won't notice the difference.  And stop complaining. 
  • That's an ignorant comment as you are telling me to stop complaining, while complaining yourself! Don't like what you read stop reading the comments. As this section is for anyone to express there comments on the article your going to get complaints so maybe my advice to you is right on the money if you dont want to read them.
  • it is not an ignorant comment, people in countries outside of the periphery dont even have to worry about these devices. they don't need to be complaining about it.
  • Exactly. If you want the features, you pay for them (i.e., you don't buy a low-end handset that will have these restrictions). How is that any different from right now?
  • I can't make it through the thread, when will people read and understand that this is for 256 meg phones, NOT ALL PHONES. Sheesh...
  • It's fine to complain, but you're complaining about things that won't affect you. When you upgrade your current WP to Tango you will still have all of those features - it is ONLY if you buy a new low-spec 256 MB phone that you won't have those features. Nothing is being taken away from you.
  • This is going to be a fail if emerging market, Grandma, youngster, etc. can't view the same YouTube content as everyone else (regular WP, iPhone, Android), excluding the ever-shrinking collection of Flash-only YouTube videos.
    For example, my wife would easily be happy a Tango phone... Except that she also enjoys YouTube.
  • Video podcasts != YouTube. YouTube videos should still work fine.
  • What you're saying you wife would love a Mango device, no?
    Anyway why are some ppl upset? Probably they're commenting from their Titans or Lumias (like me).
  • One step forward 2 steps back!
  • not hitting contract carriers in nations outsid of the periphery.
  • I think people are forgetting these arent meant to replace our current handsets only for getting into emerging markets that cant afford the iphones or the mid or high end phones. It has been talked about for months that Tango was targeted for low end phones to help get WP more marketshare and get it in new markets where Nokia was already strong. Most people on here wouldnt even be looking at the Tango phones they would go straight to the Titan II or the Lumia 710,800 or 900's. Phones like these would be perfect for grandparents and the like who would be totally confused with most of the features of a normal smartphone.
  • man people are really ignorant, what is so hard about realizing that these phones will NOT BE IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES AND ONLY IN EMERGING MARKETS!!!
  • I know, right? Hopefully some people will understand.
  • Like Germany.
    Oh wait... Germany is actually a first world country. This is a bad move, it would be good if it would have only been targeted on developing countries, but it isn't.
  • Rather than waste all this development time undoing Mango, they should have just released first-gen devices with 7392 on them to these emerging markets. Would have saved a lot of time, and probably would have cost the same.  Regardless, the level of functionality on these phones would have been the same.
  • -_- if the point of these phones is to promote calling, messaging, assorted feature phone characteristics with MMS obviously being at the center of this, why would they downgrade the devices?
  • Soooo does this mean certain existing apps won't work on first generation devices if one upgrades their OS to Tango?
  • No, it doesn't mean that at all. Tango will not remove or disable any features or apps whatsoever for any currently existing WP7 device, including 1st gen devices, because all of the WP7 devices made up to this point have had more than 256mb of RAM. Really not sure why so many people aren't understanding this?? It's not complex.
  • can you see this is all fake
    windows phone hacker and the DFT team
    look at the maps in the video
    thay are sitting inside microsoft doing this
  • Tango = wtf?!
  • About video codecs: WP7 doesn't even support divx, so...that's not a big deal...
  • If definately differentiates between the Full fat version and the Light version. Its not always about hardware sometimes it just about crippling it then selling it cheaper.
  • What does the Tango update to existing Mango users and Mango capable devices? Will we see the said improvements, such as multiple attachments in SMS, etc..? And performance benefits due to optimization?
  • I believe we ALL get the update - so yes you will get all of the improvements / optimisations. The removed features are only for 256 mb devices, and won't affect current models.
  • Why make this phone at all? This may give a first time buyer the wrong impression on Windows Phone. I feel they should scrap this low-end idea.
  • have you ever been to emerging markets? they need cheaper phones. most of them use dumb phones.
    Tango is what's called product differentiation so one doesn't cannabalize the other, and they can sell cheap handsets to those that can live without the "crippled" features, and sell higher margin handsets to those that can't live without the crippled features.
    Having said that, MS should clearly label the Tango phones so as to not confuse them with the full version of WP. Overall, I think it's a great idea to get the Windows brand into many hands.
  • How is it that Local Scout consume that much?
  • I think it's more likely that MS can't be bothered gathering all the localised info. Scout was only introduced into Australia a few months ago, and I believe the UK was a few months before that. So it takes time & effort for them to add it into new markets, which is where these phones are going.
  • This is why they should not be going to low quality phones. Stay with the high quality sacrificing quality for quantity is a BAD idea. So many of the features that would be useful are not available.
  • Talking about going backward...!!
  • *not
  • This won't affect your Lumias and Titans and whatnot, damn... why stress about it?
  • I wonder how many xbox live games are left out due to memory requirements.
  • All sounds like the Windows Phone Experience when you are in Japan, or outside of the US or UK. (-.-;;
    Tango doesn't look much different then what I can and can't do with my Windows Phone in Japan. It really sucks that Microsoft is not on their game to bring the full feature set to other markets. 
  • This is kind of stupid I think..
    Why are we going backward instead forward?  Microsoft and Nokia should be innovating newer and better features instead of removing features and going cheap.
    Nokia has tried that already, didn't they learn? This is exactly the reason why Nokia become irrelevant because they are playing safe and cheap, they are not becoming innovator.
    If they want to introduce a new cheaper phone, I suggest Microsoft don't use the "Windows Phone" brand. Because it'll just ruin brand image.
  • Nokia already has dumb phones, and they are DEAD.  If people wants dumb cheap phone, there are a lot available in the market in developing countries.
    Why is Windows Phone even going to try again here? STUPID.
    Innovate, add features, improve features, add new stuff..   Thats  why apple succeed.
    Give people something new that they didn't even think they need in the first place, instead of removing things we already know and have.  Unbelievable.  
    Someone should get fired!!!
  • Why remove podcasts from Windows Phone, not only does that piss me off but it somewhat hurts me. Most of my listeners, statistically, stream my podcast over the air. Are they saying they are doing away with this only for the phones that can't handle it or completely taking it off of the on-device marketplace? Please answer @WPCentral
  • ONLY for people with new (as yet unreleased) low-spec phones (256 mb). It doesn't affect current or future models with 512 mb ram or better.
  • Idiotic. Will shaving off 256 MB bring these phones down to $100? Not a chance. Terrible trade-off if you ask me. It's a cruel joke considering how much MS is charging for the OS. Give the OS away for free the first couple of years to build a fan base instead.
  • The aim of Tango is to slowly move towards $50 phones that runs as smooth as silk by the end of the year.  A $50 phone is for soccer mums and granddad and drug addicts.
    I am suprised they they didnt allow for some multitasking... But when you see they want this to run on 800mhz cpu, maybe there is good reason for it.  When somehardware is made to test on, maybe they will bring it back in Appllo who knows?
    No one here will buy Tango phone, so why worry? And I am sure most app will run just fine if they're the only task running.
    Dont worry and be thankful that that this OS is going to be in the hands of many many many people.