At MWC 2011, Microsoft just announced a number of improvements for WP7 including the timeline for when its first update will be pushed to devices.

The update with app-loading performance improvements and copy paste support we demoed back at CES finally got a more specific release date - it's slated to launch in early March. A number of other updates are slated for 2011, though Microsoft wouldn't assign a specific date. Those updates include multitasking support for 3rd party applications, better cloud synchronization, more web-services built into hubs, and a completely new web browser.

Microsoft recognizes that the browser is probably the single most important mobile application. It needs to be speedy, needs to be usable, and needs to have full feature parity with desktop browsers. Though the WP7 browser feels very fast translating and zooming around, JavaScript was slow and HTML5 support was nonexistent. It was based on the older Trident engine used in pre-IE9 browsers, and never felt like it really belonged in the Web 2.0 or HTML5 era. Coming in 2011, WP7 will get a major update with an IE9 browser complete with the same level of GPU acceleration and HTML5 compatibility of its desktop brother. WP7's mobile IE9 browser will use the same core rendering engine as IE9's. 

Mobile IE9 includes HTML5 support for the video tag as well. That's the same H.264 support as IE9 has on the desktop.

 

Next, WP7 will better leverage Microsoft's cloud assets, including SkyDrive support in the office hub. Other hubs are getting updates that include faster cloud sync. One of the major curiosities when WP7 launched was the absence of twitter support. Also part of 2011 will be an update that brings twitter integration in the people hub. 

Probably the most major update, however will be inclusion of 3rd party multitasking support. Fast application re-hydration and a task manager menu are the key changes. The new multitasking interface allows for task switching using the back button. Pressing and holding the back button brings up a ring-switcher interface with screenshots of running applications.

Finally, Microsoft demonstrated an impressive example of cross WP7 and Xbox connectivity with a demo of users controlling the placement of obstacles in Kinect Adventures. Microsoft needs to move quickly to deliver WP7 updates into the hands of existing users to keep the platform competitive as Android and iOS also roll out updates. 

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  • ratlas - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Apparently three's a work-around that allows tethering with the Samsung Focus Reply
  • mjz_5 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    it should be a feature, not something that i have to work to get..

    i'm not an apple fun, but with my iphone 3g, i have tethering via bluetooth and it was easy as pie to setup
    Reply
  • davepermen - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    and the omnia 7. but only with cable, not wireless, afaik (i never tested it so far).

    i hope to get some way to make it a wlan access point. the only thing i miss from my wm6.1 phone. i don't need it much, but it was very useful those few times where i could use it.
    Reply
  • mjz_5 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    also, no builtin support for RDP.. seriously microsoft Reply
  • hvakrg - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Microsoft just told Google and Apple to bring it. They need to step things up now. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I don't exactly see how catching up to your competitors is sending the message to them to "bring it." With the exception of the Kinect demo, every feature discussed has already been available with iOS and Android. And only two of the features discussed for WP7 even have release dates.

    Microsoft is definitely going in the right direction, but it still has a ways to go. Gingerbread is among us and iOS' refresh is right around the corner.

    Brandon
    Reply
  • flatline403 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    If Android has a (built-in) feature/service that is equivalent to Microsoft's skydrive, I am unaware of it.

    Google Docs support on Android is lacking, there is no dedicated app and the browser support is mediocre.
    Reply
  • hvakrg - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    The thing is that Microsoft with these two updates catches up on most of the things they were missing, multitasking and C&P, and imo the decks are better then the taskswitched on Iphone/Android.

    And they still have the advantages that they already had with in Office, gaming and social integration. And they're even improving the lead in these areas.

    IIOS for one needs a big UI overhaul if they want to compete. It's really starting to show its age.

    The next two things WP7 needs to bring now is LYNC/Live video chat with 3G/4G support, and tethering.
    Reply
  • madseven7 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Will Swype ever come to Windows Phone 7? Reply
  • LostPassword - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    With all these upcoming wp7 updates, I will definitely consider nokia's new phone. Reply

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