CES 2011 is in full force and there were many exciting announcements made regarding new tablets, Android devices. Microsoft released the new build of Surface - an interactive desk that is now thinner and less expensive. Windows Phone 7 wasn't left aside either. Two major applications were announced for the device - official Flickr and Kindle apps are now available in the Marketplace. Since the platform is growing right now, any major player like Amazon and Yahoo counts and this definitely benefits Microsoft as the platform developer and of course - its users in the first place. After all, today the popularity of the platform can be measured in such terms as the number of "serious" applications available in the app marketplace. On a side note, I wonder when Pandora is going to make it's way here...
Another announcement was the upcoming January update, that will bring some of the expected but missed capabilities for Windows Phone 7. The main improvement (or shall I say, addition) here is the copy-paste capability, but there should also be some performance improvements that would make the startup times much lower. Although there is no fixed date as to when exactly in January this will be released, I can probably expect Microsoft to start rolling out the update by the middle of the month. After all, some developers already have the test version of the update. Despite the fact that "some people" got the update, I still can't see any pending updates on my Samsung Taylor (prototype dev device) so I can safely assume that those are registered beta testers.
The upcoming update is called "No Donuts" and it compared to the possible "Mango" update (that should be released in August/September 2011) this will be a minor addition to what's already on WP7 devices. On the other hand, I can see that this update is probably really important for some users and in several cases can be a deal breaker when it comes to choosing a phone ("Oh, so you say this Windows Phone doesn't have copy and paste?"). It really is about time WP7 gets some of the basic functionality that is already present in the systems developed by its competitors.
Another announcement was the one regarding the fact that Windows Phone 7 devices will be available for Sprint and Verizon users by the end of June. Not really something to be extremeley excited about, but it will certainly give the opportunity to people outside the AT&T orbit to see what the Microsoft's new mobile platform is about. And since the current user base is quite satisfied with the available WP7 devices, Microsoft will expand it's influence in the mobile world to another set of potential customers (out of 91.2 million Verizon customers, plus the undeclared number of Sprint users).
For those who considered Windows Phone 7 a gaming device, Microsoft announced that there will be Fable avaiable for the new OS. Right now, it still isn't one of those "play on WP7, continue on Xbox" games (well, only to some limited extent as of now), but with a number of serious titles coming to the platform, we will soon enough see that coming.
Overall I like the fact that Windows Phone 7 is going to updated (or at least that's how it seems now) much faster compared to iPhone and Android, which should give it an advantage - it's easier to push new features and receive customer feedback as fast as possible rather than wait a year (or two) to release a large update that might brick half of the devices.