Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series will not allow users to cut, copy and paste text, adding to a list of other features-including Adobe Flash support-that the company's newest smartphone operating system will lack when it rolls out to consumers and businesses later in 2010.
"Windows Phone 7 Series will not initially offer copy and paste," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK on March 17. "Instead, we try to solve the most common uses for copy and paste via single-tap action."
For example, the spokesperson continued, "people often want to take an address and view it on a map, highlight a term in the browser and do a search or copy a phone number to make a call. Instead of the user manually doing a copy and paste in these scenarios, we recognize those situations automatically and make them happen with just one touch."
This method, apparently, drew a positive response in early testing, the Microsoft spokesperson added, although the company is apparently prepared to leverage feedback to improve that particular feature set.
The initial devices in the Windows Phone 7 Series may also lack Adobe Flash support, according to Microsoft, although CEO Steve Ballmer assured the audience at a Feb. 15 press conference in Barcelona, Spain, that "we have no objection" to Flash, which is used by many popular Websites to power their rich content.
With no definite timeline announced for Flash support, Microsoft and Adobe have nonetheless been collaborating to integrate Flash Player 10.1 into Internet Explorer Mobile on the Windows Phone 7 Series. Mike Chambers, Adobe's principal product manager for developer relations for the Flash platform, wrote in a March 9 posting on his personal blog, "I don't have an ETA or other specifics right now, but it is something that both Adobe and Microsoft are working closely together on."
Integration of Adobe Flash into mobile devices has become an unexpected hot topic of discussion among the tech community in recent weeks, after a January "town hall" meeting at Apple headquarters in which CEO Steve Jobs allegedly suggested that Flash's buggy nature was the reason it had been excluded from both the iPhone and the upcoming iPad tablet PC. Jobs also insisted that HTML5 would be the Internet's future for delivering rich content to Websites.
In response, a member of Adobe's marketing team wrote in a Jan. 27 corporate blog posting, "Without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of Web content, including over 70 percent of games and 75 percent of video on the Web."
Apple's position led a number of companies hoping to compete in the mobile space, including Hewlett-Packard, to emphasize that their own devices will include full Adobe Flash support. "With [our upcoming tablet PC], you're getting a full Web browsing experience in the palm of your hand. No watered-down Internet, no sacrifices," Phil McKinney, HP's vice president and chief technology officer for the Personal Systems Group, wrote in a March 8 posting on the company's Voodoo blog. "A big bonus for [our tablet PC] is that, being based off Windows 7, it offers full Adobe support."
Flash support or no, Windows Phone 7 Series will make a clean break from other technologies as well. During the Mix 2010 conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft executives emphasized that current Windows Mobile applications would not be compatible with the new smartphone operating system.
"We do recognize that there are a lot of folks who have been writing apps for Windows Mobile for some time," Larry Lieberman, senior product manager for Microsoft's Mobile Developer Experience, told eWEEK in a March 15 interview. "But we recognize that the landscape has changed, and as we've been looking at stuff, we had to drastically change our game, and really the only way to do that was to look at what we were offering and what we could do to address this in a competitive accelerated manner."
Windows Phone 7 Series will utilize Silverlight and XNA to allow developers to build applications and 3D games for the upcoming Windows Phone Marketplace. However, Microsoft has also taken pains to insist over the past few weeks that it intends to continue supporting Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
Apple's iPhone also lacked copy/cut/paste upon its release, although the company later offered that functionality in an update. It had been long requested by many users, particularly those who use their smartphones more in the manner of ultraportable desktops. Given the iPhone's success before that update, though, it stands to reason that Windows Phone 7 Series lacking copy/cut/paste will not exactly be perceived as the deciding factor in whether the smartphone operating system proves a success.