LAS VEGAS-Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 updates, due over the course of the next few months, aim to make the company’s smartphone software more appealing to consumers and competitive with rival platforms.
Windows Phone 7 has been a focus at the Consumer Electronics Show here, with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer devoting a substantial portion of his Jan. 5 keynote address to the platform and its growth in the few months since its release. During that keynote, he alluded to several updates apparently in the pipeline over the next few months, including copy-and-paste and “significant performance improvements when loading and switching between applications.”
More specifically, those updates will include:
App Performance: During the CES presentation, a Microsoft executive placed two Windows Phone 7 smartphones on a table-one with the upcoming software update, one without-and activated the same game on each. The smartphone with the software update, perhaps inevitably, booted twice as fast. The update’s actual effect on performance, however, will depend on the processing demands of the app or game in question. In some cases, an app may load and run twice as fast; in others, the difference may only be a second or two.
Copy-and-Paste: The increased prevalence of productivity apps on smartphone platforms-such as Windows Phone 7’s Office hub-in theory increases the need for cut-and-paste, at least among a subset of power users. Copy-and-paste functionality will also bring Windows Phone 7’s capabilities in-line with the iPhone and other smartphone platforms, blunting criticism that Microsoft’s offering is somehow incomplete.
Tweaks: Searching the Marketplace, for example, will become more efficient by the end of the upgrade cycle. Battery life may also improve, thanks to minor tweaks.
Currently available on GSM-based networks such as AT&T, Windows Phone 7 will appear on CDMA networks such as Sprint and Verizon sometime in the first half of 2011. However, Microsoft executives deferred talking details about potential CDMA devices.
Microsoft claims some 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 units have been sold by manufacturers to retailers, but the company remains reluctant to share how many of those devices have found their way into consumers’ hands. Microsoft executives argue the company has never been in the habit of sharing its smartphone end-sales numbers, ever since Windows Mobile, but that carriers might release some numbers in the next few weeks or months.