During the keynote at Mobile World Congress today, Steve Ballmer talked about where Windows Phone is today, and then shed some light on what features we can expect over the course of 2011. The first item on the list is the pending Copy & Paste update – according to Steve, we can expect that in the first half of March. And while that’s something that we’ve all been waiting for, Steve didn’t waste much time talking about that. He highlighted some of the other enhancements that are coming before the end of 2011.
First off is Twitter integration into the people hub. Much like the way Facebook has been integrated, Twitter will also see a close integration in the people hub allowing you to easily see what your friends are tweeting about right along side of those Facebook updates. Full SkyDrive integration is also coming before the end of 2011. This will allow you to get those Office documents from the cloud to the phone without the hassle found today.
IE mobile will be moving to the IE 9 engine by the end of the year. The same engine used in IE 9 on the desktop will be powering IE 9 Mobile on Windows Phone, with full support for HTML 5 and hardware acceleration. During the demo, they showed the a Windows Phone 7 device running the IE9 Fish test page above with 50 fish swimming around versus the same page on an iPhone 4 device. No question, the Windows Phone device was swimming circles around the iPhone. The end result is a super rich browsing experience on the mobile platform and once again, coming to Windows Phone before the end of 2011.
Another addition heading to Windows Phone users before the end of 2011 is “full” multi-tasking. Steve was quick to poke the stick at competitors that offer a half baked multi-tasking solution, but failed to elaborate on how they will be offering multi-tasking without run-away apps and the battery hit that Windows Mobile suffered from. Microsoft did talk about how this has been specially designed to minimize the impact on the battery. But we really don’t know much more than that at this time. Along with multi-tasking comes fast application switching with a long press on the back button. The current behavior of the back button will not change, but the addition of application switching will be possible with a long press on the back button. This will result in a series of cards that pop up on the screen allowing you to scroll between each of the open applications. All in all, it looks very slick and very promising.
Before leaving the stage, Microsoft shared a video showing just one of the ideas they are working on for a greater sense of integration between Windows Phone and the Xbox. This early sample shows the Windows Phone running as a extension of the Xbox and Kinect allowing others to be part of the experience.
The following video’s show off the multi-tasking demo and then the extensions for Xbox with Kinect. However, if you want to see the full keynote, you can watch it in its entirety over on Microsoft’s site.