Ten things we still don't know about Microsoft's next-gen Windows Phones

Microsoft has just concluded its February 15 press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where company officials showed off a demo unit of a Windows Phone 7 Series phone. But there are still lots of things we still have no idea about, after Microsoft's hour-and-a-half mobile-strategy presentation.

Microsoft has just concluded its February 15 press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where company officials showed off a demo unit of a Windows Phone 7 Series phone.

Those of us watching the Webcast got a good idea of the "Metro" user interface that will be on these phones. If you're a Zune HD user, you won't have any trouble figuring out the interface, which includes the same "hub" and "pinning" concepts Microsoft pioneered with the Zune HD. We know there is going to be a dedicated Bing hardware button on the phones. We know Version 1 of these phones won't have support for Adobe Flash.

We also know who's on the list of Windows Phone 7 phone makers (LG, Samsung, HTP, HP, Dell, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Garmin, Asus and Qualcomm) and carriers (T-Mobile, Orange, Verizon, VodaFone, Sprint, Verizon, Telefonica, AT&T and Telstra, among others).

But there are still lots of things we still have no idea about, after Microsoft's hour-and-a-half mobile-strategy presentation.

Here are ten of just a few of my still-unanswered questions (some of which I'm hoping to get more details on later today):

1. When are the Windows Phone 7 phones coming to market -- other than by "holiday 2010" as the Softies said today? Does that mean September, October, November? Will all of the Windows Phone 7 handsets be out this year, or are some going to lag into 2011?

2. Will Windows Phone 7 phones be able to multitask? Microsoft showed a video criticizing its competitors for lacking multitasking, but no one said these new phones will multitask. Instead, Microsoft execs said users would be able to access multiple apps via "hubs."  But that doesn't necessarily mean multitask.

3. Which version of Internet Explorer is the Windows Phone 7 Series running? Microsoft execs said it's a more advanced version of IE than the company has ever shipped. But they didn't say which version of IE it is.

4. What's the operating system inside the Windows Phone 7s? Microsoft execs never said the words "Windows Mobile 7" (and I don't believe that Windows Phone 7 is the name of the OS, contrary to what some bloggers have asserted recently). Which version of Windows CE is at the core of the OS? CE 6.0 R3 (Cashmere?) or something more or less current?

5. Which Windows Live services will come "standard" as part of the Windows Phone 7 experience? Microsoft officials said "some" of them will be. I'd assume Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Photo Gallery. But what about Live Mesh, Movie Maker, Live Writer?

6. There were a lot of rumors about Microsoft offering a "business" version of Windows Mobile 7 and a "consumer" version of it. At today's event, Microsoft officials emphasized that users want one phone to handle consumer and enterprise tasks. Does this mean that the very consumer-oriented UI for Windows Phone 7 is the only UI? Or will users get a business option at some point? And no mentions of the Office Mobile 2010 product today also made me wonder how/when Microsoft and its partners will make that next-gen Office suite available to Windows Phone 7 users. (Remember The Office Mobile 2010 release is a iIndows Mobile 6.5 app... so if there's no backward compatibility, it's unclear how/when it will support the new Windows Phone 7s.)

7. What about the promised over-the-air updates for Windows Mobile 7? What about Silverlight support for Windows Mobile 7? Microsoft execs have been on record in the past committing to these features but no mention of either today.

8. Does the fact that all Windows Phone 7 devices will be Zune music/video-capable (as Microsoft execs said today on stage) mean that there are no more dedicated Zune HD players coming from Microsoft? Is the Zune HD, introduced in the fall of 2009, the last of that line? (Update: I asked Microsoft and got a no comment on this one.)

9. What happens to My Phone (Microsoft's backup/recovery service)? Windows Marketplace for Mobile? No mentions of either of these during today's event makes me suspicious about their future. (Update: Windows Marketplace for Mobile becomes one of the hubs in Windows Phone 7 devices; sounds like it will not include Windows 6.x apps.) And what about the new release of "Dorado," the Zune app for PCs? Will that support Windows Phone 7 devices?

10. The elephant in the room (Pink) was not mentioned or alluded to at all during today's MWC event. I had heard late last week that Microsoft is planning a separate Pink rollout event for the Pure and Turtle phones made by Sharp -- possibly this spring. How does the Pink "experience" integrate with/relate to the Windows Phone 7 one, if at all?

Beyond the development tools strategy/vision for Windows Phone 7 (which Microsoft execs have said will be a topic for the Mix 2010 show in mid-March), what else do you want to know about Windows Phone 7?

Update: I got a few answers and lots of "no comment -- yet" responses to some of these questions when I had a chance to talk to Microsoft after its event was over today.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All