Microsoft outlines new features coming to Windows Phone 7 in 2011

Summary:Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, keynoting the Mobile World Congress conference on February 14, announced a set of features that Microsoft is promising it will bring to Windows Phone 7 in 2011.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, keynoting the Mobile World Congress conference on February 14, announced a set of features that Microsoft is promising it will bring to Windows Phone 7 in 2011.

Ballmer also confirmed, as expected, that the first Windows Phone 7 update, codenamed "NoDo," will be out in early March 2011.

Microsoft's press release outlining today's announcements did not specify how many Windows Phone 7 updates Microsoft plans to release this year. Nor did it use the codename "Mango," which is the first major update for Windows Phone 7, expected to be available on WP7 devices this fall/holiday season. Ballmer did mention "a significant release" due later this year during his remarks, which, presumably, is a reference to Mango.

But Microsoft did announce that the following updates will be added to WP7 in calendar 2011:

  • Twitter integration directly into the People Hub
  • Support for Office documents in the cloud (Skydrive Docs), going beyond the current OneNote integration
  • Dramatically enhanced Web browser experience based on IE9  (IE Mobile 9)
  • A "new wave of multitasking applications" (i.e., third-party applications get multitasking support)

Ballmer (and the Microsoft press release from today) also made no mention of when Microsoft plans to make available to carriers CDMA support. I've gotten lots of questions about when Sprint and Verizon will be launching Windows Phone 7 devices. Some had expected the NoDo update to provide CDMA support, but there was no word today whether this will be the case. I've noted previously that I have heard CDMA WP7 phones may not be out until this summer.

Update: Microsoft execs say that CDMA support will be part of NoDo. The first Windows Phone 7 devices are coming from Verizon and Sprint should be out in the first half of calendar 2011, a spokesperson reconfirmed today.

Joe Belfiore, the Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Program Management, emphasized during his demonstrations of an early version of "the significant update" of the Windows Phone 7 code that the IE 9 code on the phone includes the same core IE 9 code that runs on the PC. That means apps and sites designed for IE 9 will run automatically on WP7, he said.

Belfiore also showed off the ability for Windows Phones to integrate with Kinect, allowing phone users to participate in games using their avatars (support for which will be coming at some point down the road).

Microsoft execs declined to comment when I asked whether there will be any WP7 updates between NoDo and Mango. (Not a good sign, I'd say. I'm thinking that means no.) Based on today's keynote, it sounds to me like anything that isn't part of NoDo will have to wait until Mango....

Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Mobility, Windows


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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