Earlier this week Windows Phone 7 developers began to receive an update which enabled copy and paste. Now, one of the first sites to leak that news, WinRumors, has followed up with a leak of Microsoft's pending release schedule for 2011.
A Tale of Two Updates
According to the report, Microsoft will release the first of two big updates at the January at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The first update will likely go live after Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's opening keynote on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. PST (9:30 p.m. EST). The update will add copy and paste, and possibly other features.
A second update will air a month later at the 2011 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Spain. Mr. Ballmer is set to deliver a keynote at that event as well, taking place Monday, February 14, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. CET (11 a.m. EST, 8 a.m. PST). That update, according to developer sources, will include APIs to implement third party multi-tasking, in-app downloads and better customization for end users.
Unknown is whether either of the two pending updates will include increased support for maps, tethering, or memory-card hot-swapping.
Windows Phone: Silverlight, Flash, and HTML5
According to recent statements by a Microsoft employee, that second update could contain a refresh to Silverlight as well. Brian Keller, Microsoft's Senior Technical Evangelist for Visual Studio application lifecycle management, in a Channel 9 interview states, "I think we are saving [Silverlight news], for say another event. If only there was a massive event in Barcelona on mobile phones and or other events in the future."
For interested developers, this post in the Microsoft-sponsored MSDN magazine is an excellent introduction to the nuances of Silverlight 3 on Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft is already preparing to push out Silverlight 5's beta to PC developers. Thus it would be logical to guess that Microsoft might be preparing a ported version of Silverlight 4 for WP7. Silverlight 4 introduced a number of upgrades including web cam and microphone support; improved DRM; performance optimizations to make apps "start quicker and run 200% faster than the equivalent Silverlight 3 application"; improved multi-touch; interaction with Microsoft Office; in-app HTML; user folder file-access capabilities; and more. Obviously, many of these could enable some cool new kinds of apps on WP7.
A Microsoft job posting also reveals that an improved browser with a "major overhaul of standard support and new approaches to make significant advances in performance, power consumption and bandwidth utilization" is in the works. Does that mean that WP7 will receive HTML5 compatibility? Let's hope.
Windows Phone 8 Enters "Planning Phase"
Apparently unconcerned about slow initial sales, Microsoft is looking ahead, and has already started work on Windows Phone 8. Another job posting reveals:
We are just putting the last touches on Office Mobile 2010 on Windows Phone 7 which will be a very competitive device and a breakthrough for Microsoft in the Mobile Market. With Office 15 and Windows Phone 8 planning phase just getting under way, now is also the perfect time to join us and help shape the future of Office Mobile 15 on Windows Phone 8 as we plan to create the next wave of innovation that will lead our product to even greater heights. Very exciting…
WP7 already has a very intuitive and well-built interface, so once Microsoft starts filling in these gaps it could well be in for an Android-esque rise from obscurity to a top market position.