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Opinion: Are Windows Phone 7 updates too late?

Microsoft already trails Android and the iPhone

This week, Microsoft revealed Windows Phone 7 will be updated this year to include a number of new features, such as multitasking and a mobile version of  Internet Explorer 9. This is great news, but in the world of Android super phones and the impending iPhone 5, is it too little too late for Microsoft's platform?

It was just about a year ago today when Microsoft announced its all-new smartphone platform to a packed room at Mobile World Congress. Microsoft threw out its old operating system, Windows Mobile, and built WP7 from the ground up. Modern, clean, and loaded with powerful applications, WP7 was met mostly with praise. Windows Mobile was known for being archaic, slow and difficult to use, so WP7's breezy interface was a welcome change.

Still, a few glaring omissions kept Windows Phone 7 from posing a serious threat to Android. First, WP7 didn't include third-party multitasking, which was strange considering the old Windows Mobile platform had it. Also, no CDMA WP7 devices seemed to be coming in the near future. And 4G didn't even seem to make a blip on Microsoft's radar.

But the ultimate 'what were they thinking?!' feature was copy/paste.

And other than the handful of devices that were announced alongside the OS rollout, there hasn't been a lot of movement in terms of new phones. I am looking forward to more phones coming when WP7 support for CDMA is announced.

Despite the fact that Windows Phone 7 seems a bit late to the game, this update has some gems. Ballmer demoed the browser, which features graphics and other hardware acceleration, and it looked impressive. Multitasking also looked pretty slick: you hold the back button and your task manager pops up. Another intriguing feature is the Xbox Live Kinect Windows Phone companion coming to WP7.

But as more dual-core Android Gingerbread phones begin to flood the market, it is unclear whether these new features will bolster Microsoft as a worthy competitor to Google's Android Army. The Nokia partnership is promising, though; it will mean more hardware and possibly even wider adoption of the platform among consumers.

See also: Microsoft to pay out 'billions' as part of Nokia deal


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