By Jared Newman | Monday, February 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm
A couple of Windows Phone 7 updates, coming this year, will give Microsoft’s smartphone operating system some much-needed parity with other platforms.
The first update, which according to Ina Fried at All Things D will be out by March, adds copy-and-paste, performance tweaks and support for the CDMA networks of Sprint and Verizon Wireless, clearing the way for new handsets from those carriers.
A meatier update is due in the second half of 2011, and will add Internet Explorer 9 Mobile (with HTML5 support), Twitter integration into the People Hub, support for SkyDrive online storage and — wait for it — third-party multitasking. As VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar reports, Windows Phone 7 will use a card-like interface for multitasking, kind of like HP’s WebOS and Research in Motion’s Playbook tablet. No word on voice-guided Bing Maps navigation or custom ring tones, though. Bummer.
Why announce all this stuff now, instead of when it’s actually ready? With Windows Phone 7 set to power most future Nokia smartphones, the time is right. The general consensus on the Microsoft-Nokia deal is that Nokia makes great hardware, but you can’t really mention Microsoft’s platform without talking about what it lacks. At least now, pundits (ahem) know that Microsoft has most of WinPho7’s missing features in its sights.
(One thing that isn’t on the priority list: Adobe Flash. Windows Phone unit President Andy Lees told All Things D that Microsoft is “not allergic to Flash,” but it won’t be in the next couple of updates due to battery and other concerns.)
Like Harry, I don’t buy the argument that Microsoft is too late to the smartphone party. The market has plenty of room to grow, and nowhere is it written that consumers can’t switch from one OS to another. (I’m thinking of new platforms myself after two years with an iPhone 3GS.) The challenge for Microsoft now is to release these software updates in tandem with a new wave of better smartphone hardware, with or without Nokia.