isn't looking for slow and steady gains with Windows Phone 7 (WP7); it's
looking to conquer the market. Much like it did with the Xbox 360,
Microsoft is looking to jump directly to second with a new
partnership with the world's leading phone-maker Nokia.
But whether it can attain that favorable position, as with its gaming console,
depends on how good the company's product is. Fortunately for Windows
Phone 7, the product is shaping up to improve dramatically in coming months.
At the Mobile World Conference 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer announced [video]
that WP7's first major update would be delivered in just weeks in "early
March". That update will most notably bring
copy and paste. It is also adds CDMA support, which means that Verizon and Sprint WP7 handsets should be
airing around the same time. And it also will reportedly improve the
performance of a number of key system pieces.
But that's not all. "Later this year" an update will land which
delivers a mobile version of Internet Explorer 9, complete with hardware
acceleration. Microsoft showed off the new browser smoking an iPhone 4's
Mobile Safari in a speed test. The only disappointment is that Flash
wasn't mentioned, indicating that Microsoft may opt to "follow in Apple's
line" and go HTML5-only. But Mr. Ballmer did promise the
"full" internet, so it's possible that Flash just was coincidently
And another update is also in store. With that third update,
multi-tasking will at last be opened up to third party apps. The
implementation looks pretty intuitive -- press and hold the back arrow key to
get a card list of running apps. Games are paused briefly when you switch
back to them, to give you time to react. And Microsoft says that the
multi-tasking is all done without gobbling up battery-life.
Finally, for the Twitter lovers out there, Microsoft is working to integrate
the feature in its people hub, hence perpetuating the evil of micro-blogging.
Former Microsoft Canada executive and new Nokia CEO Stephen
Elop made a guest appearance at Ballmer's keynote. He gushed, "Microsoft
has a very modern collection of tools to help developers. Unquestionably the
most operator-friendly ecosystem today... Microsoft and Nokia together
represent a natural partnership. People are getting it."
Mr. Ballmer announced that the WP7 platform is now up to 8,000 apps, and that
it has 1 million active developers.
And Microsoft had a few tricks up its sleeve. It showed off a fourth slick
update to Windows Phone 7 that allows the device to interact with the Kinect
motion sensor for the Xbox 360. The new interface allows users to control
aspects of Kinect games, for new multiplayer challenges.
That update is coming this year as well.
So to recap on this flurry of updates to WP7 that are incoming this year we