Microsoft today kicked off Mobile World Congress by giving people a glimpse of what the rest of the year will bring for Windows Phone 7. Among the updates are several new features, a booming app marketplace, and the integration of even more Microsoft products with the phone. A concrete example of the company's vision is the new strategic partnership with Nokia. "This partnership will combine the strengths of our two companies, and fuel our growth as we build the global Windows Phone ecosystem. This is a great win for us, for Nokia, and for our existing and new customers around the world," said Andy Lees, president of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business. The first goal with Windows Phone 7, Lees said, was to deliver a uniquely delightful customer experience.
Microsoft announced several new Windows Phone 7 features coming in 2011, including a "dramatically enhanced" browser experience based on Internet Explorer 9; additional multitasking capabilities; support for Microsoft Office documents in the cloud; and the addition of Twitter to the People Hub. The expanded capabilities announced today include:
- Copy and paste functionality via first major update, coming in the next month
- Twitter integration directly into the People Hub in 2011
- Support for Office documents in the cloud in 2011
- Dramatically enhanced Web browser experience based on IE9 in 2011
- A new wave of multitasking applications in 2011
Microsoft sold 2 million phone licenses in Windows Phone 7's first two months, and the phone is now available from 60 mobile operators in 30 countries around the world, Lees said. As phone availability and sales grow, so too does the app marketplace - there are now more than 8,000 apps in the marketplace and 28,000 registered developers.
In addition, the phone will be available soon on U.S. networks such as Verizon and Sprint, he said. Also, with an expanded feature set, more capabilities, and new partnerships like the one just announced with Nokia, the Windows Phone 7 platform is positioned to scale up rapidly.
With the bang of a starting gun firing last fall, Windows Phone 7 launched itself into the mobile race. It's a race that Microsoft leaders are quick to point out is not a sprint, but a marathon - and one that's just begun.
"We're in the race - it's not a sprint but we are certainly gaining momentum and we're in it for the long run," said Achim Berg, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business and Marketing Group. "We know we have tough competition, and this is a completely new product. Our design is different, our platform is different, our customer experience is different, and our long-term strategy for earning widespread adoption is different."
Over the next year, the company will continue to work with third parties on phone innovation and will add new features and apps that customers want and that make using Windows Phone 7 a "delightful experience." Microsoft also will work to engage more of the nearly 80 percent of worldwide phone users who are not using a smart phone, said JP Wollersheim, a Windows Phone 7 product manager.
It was just two and a half years ago that Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 team came together with a single mission: to go back to the drawing board to create a completely new Windows Phone, to rethink and smarten up the smart phone, and to create a device that successfully integrated many favorite Microsoft products into one device - Bing, Windows LIVE, Xbox and Office, among others.
The Windows Phone 7 feature update is expected to be introduced anytime in the 2nd half of 2011 with the firmware upgrade expected to be code-named "Mango".
Cheers ~ Arne