Steve Ballmer hit the keynote stage at Mobile World Congress to talk about what’s new with Windows Phone 7. If you remember, it was one year ago that he first announced Windows Phone 7, squashing rumors that the next mobile product out of Redmond would be Photon, or Windows Mobile 7.
For 2011, a lot is happening with Windows Phone 7. Here’s a look at what to expect:
First Major Update
A free customer update will be made available for all Windows Phones in the first two weeks of March, which includes new capabilities such as copy & paste and faster application performance.
Availability on CDMA Networks
With added support for CDMA networks, Windows Phone will be available to even more customers on mobile operators such as Verizon and Sprint in the first half of 2011.
Twitter Integration in the People Hub
The popular social networking service Twitter will be integrated into the People Hub in the second half of 2011.
Office Document Storage in the Cloud
Document sharing and storage in the cloud via Windows Live SkyDrive will be added to Windows Phone in the second half of 2011.
Next Generation Browsing with Internet Explorer 9
A dramatically enhanced Internet Explorer 9 web browser will be added to Windows Phone in the second half of 2011. It will feature the same standards support (HTML5, etc.) and hardware accelerated graphics as the PC version.
Additional Multi-tasking Capabilities
We will add the ability to switch quickly between applications, run applications in the background (such as listening to music), along with a number of other capabilities in the second half of 2011. Developers will learn much more about this during April’s MIX conference.
We’re very much looking forward to many of these enhancements to Windows Phone 7, especially IE9 (it’s tough to imagine that browsing on Windows Phone 7 could get even better) and multitasking. We’re not entirely sure how Windows Phone 7 will be able to multitask. We’ve hypothesized that a double tap or tap and hold of the Start button could bring up a quick app switcher, though we’ll have to wait and see.
The timeline for these features are a bit hazy. Microsoft is now saying that the copy and paste update will land in the first two weeks of March. Beyond that, we’d expect to see the other features rolled into the Mango update for Summer 2011, so that holiday devices can ship with the latest software.
Update: Turns out that the way you use fast app switching is by pressing and holding the back button. Doing so will bring up a cool live preview of all of the apps you have open.