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A pair of updates in January and February are expected to bring copy/paste and multi-tasking to Windows Phone 7 customers.

Microsoft's overactive CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to be the bearer of both pieces of good news.  (Source: The Guardian UK)

Windows Phone Silverlight (current edition pictured) is also rumored to get an upgrade in February, possibly bringing it closer to being in line with current PC edition, Silverlight 4.  (Source: MSDN Magazine)
Big changes are in store for Microsoft phone OS

Earlier this week Windows Phone 7 developers began to receive an update which enabled copy and paste.  Now, one of the first sites to leak that news, WinRumors, has followed up with a leak of Microsoft's pending release schedule for 2011.

A Tale of Two Updates

According to the report, Microsoft will release the first of two big updates at the January at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  The first update will likely go live after Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's opening keynote on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. PST (9:30 p.m. EST).  The update will add copy and paste, and possibly other features.

A second update will air a month later at the 2011 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Spain.  Mr. Ballmer is set to deliver a keynote at that event as well, taking place Monday, February 14, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. CET (11 a.m. EST, 8 a.m. PST).  That update, according to developer sources, will include APIs to implement third party multi-tasking, in-app downloads and better customization for end users.

Unknown is whether either of the two pending updates will include increased support for maps, tethering, or memory-card hot-swapping.

Windows Phone: Silverlight, Flash, and HTML5

According to recent statements by a Microsoft employee, that second update could contain a refresh to Silverlight as well.  Brian Keller, Microsoft's Senior Technical Evangelist for Visual Studio application lifecycle management, in a Channel 9 interview states, "I think we are saving [Silverlight news], for say another event. If only there was a massive event in Barcelona on mobile phones and or other events in the future."

For those of you who don't know what Silverlight is, it's a rich multimedia medium similar to Adobe's Flash or HTML5+Javascript.  WP7 currently does not support Flash or HTML5, but it does feature a somewhat stripped down version of Silverlight 3, with the keyboard input of the PC swapped out for multi-touch input.

For interested developers, this post in the Microsoft-sponsored MSDN magazine is an excellent introduction to the nuances of Silverlight 3 on Windows Phone 7. 

Microsoft is already preparing to push out Silverlight 5's beta to PC developers.  Thus it would be logical to guess that Microsoft might be preparing a ported version of Silverlight 4 for WP7.  Silverlight 4 introduced a number of upgrades including web cam and microphone support; improved DRM; performance optimizations to make apps "start quicker and run 200% faster than the equivalent Silverlight 3 application"; improved multi-touch; interaction with Microsoft Office; in-app HTML; user folder file-access capabilities; and more.  Obviously, many of these could enable some cool new kinds of apps on WP7.

A Microsoft job posting also reveals that an improved browser with a "major overhaul of standard support and new approaches to make significant advances in performance, power consumption and bandwidth utilization" is in the works.  Does that mean that WP7 will receive HTML5 compatibility?  Let's hope.

Windows Phone 8 Enters "Planning Phase"

Apparently unconcerned about slow initial sales, Microsoft is looking ahead, and has already started work on Windows Phone 8.  Another job posting reveals:

We are just putting the last touches on Office Mobile 2010 on Windows Phone 7 which will be a very competitive device and a breakthrough for Microsoft in the Mobile Market. With Office 15 and Windows Phone 8 planning phase just getting under way, now is also the perfect time to join us and help shape the future of Office Mobile 15 on Windows Phone 8 as we plan to create the next wave of innovation that will lead our product to even greater heights. Very exciting…

WP7 already has a very intuitive and well-built interface, so once Microsoft starts filling in these gaps it could well be in for an Android-esque rise from obscurity to a top market position.

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html 5 support
By DanNeely on 12/10/2010 11:35:24 AM , Rating: 2
"A Microsoft job posting also reveals that an improved browser with a "major overhaul of standard support and new approaches to make significant advances in performance, power consumption and bandwidth utilization" is in the works. Does that mean that WP7 will receive HTML5 compatibility? Let's hope."

Probably not if it's going out in the current batch of updates. WP7 currently uses what is effectively IE7.5. Pushing the rest of IE8's capabilities to the mobile version would be a major boost that should be doable in the short term. HTML5 won't be coming until IE9 gets ported, which probably won't happen until the desktop version is out of beta.

RE: html 5 support
By sviola on 12/10/2010 12:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
Well, they may as well be looking forward to updating the WP7 browser to something closer to ie 9.

RE: html 5 support
By Flunk on 12/10/2010 3:52:13 PM , Rating: 2
They would realistically be better off dropping IE entirely and just using Webkit. I know they'll never do it but it would save a lot of development money.

RE: html 5 support
By cditty on 12/11/2010 10:35:20 AM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with you on this one. They could make browser development much easier for themselves. If they are going to embrace standards (which I applaud them for), they should just go ahead and switch to webkit and use those the savings in browser development on OS improvements and advancing cloud services.

I like my Windows Phone alot, but I am still popping my SIM in my Nexus One way more. I think that will change after February.

RE: html 5 support
By ScotterQX6700 on 12/11/2010 3:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
Having (and loving) a Nexus One, I see why you prefer a webkit-based browser to the one in the Windows phones. However, as a developer I totally understand why it is in Microsoft's best interest to spend the money on creating a mobile-version of their desktop web browser. If I were them I would see this as an investment in the future where, optimally for future dev time/$, they would use as many of the same libraries as possible in both browsers.

RE: html 5 support
By teohhanhui on 12/12/2010 11:57:18 AM , Rating: 2
Are you really fine with a WebKit-only web? Competition is an important factor in moving browsers forward.

RE: html 5 support
By djdjohnson on 12/12/2010 8:38:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's interesting that the public has the common misconception that Webkit is the only way to go for a browser engine. The truth is that Microsoft is doing a much better job about implementing the features that are going to be made available with HTML5.

One of the aspects of my job is to research future technologies and make decisions about what technologies we are going to use to implement our products. I recently completed my assessment of HTML5 and the conclusion was that it isn't feasible to use it yet because of the spotty (at best) implementation of the protocol in "modern" browsers.

I used the latest betas of all of the major browsers (to see where things were headed), and it turned out that the Webkit based browsers (Safari and Chrome) are absolutely the worst when it comes to implementing the promised features of HTML5. In order of most complete to least complete they were: Opera 10/11, IE9, Firefox 4, Chrome 8, and lastly Safari 5. The gaps between each of the first four weren't huge (though the gap between Opera and Chrome was pretty significant), but Safari was the worst by quite a wide margin, even compared to Chrome. It seems Apple isn't really that intent on adopting HTML5 standards, with Safari leaving out major HTML5 capabilities. In my own opinion, if one is banking on compatibility with HTML5 in the future, Webkit would be the last engine I would choose in creating a browser right now. Either they're hiding something up their sleeves for a future release, or they've rested on their laurels too long, because as of right now Webkit just isn't ready for the future.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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