The Microsoft keynote at CES last night reiterated a lot of what we already know about Windows Phone 7, and fleshed out the software giant's plans for its mobile phone operating system in 2011. Part of those plans include a much needed update bringing copy and paste, some dramatic performance improvements, and support for CDMA carriers stateside like Verizon and Sprint. 

Since finishing our mammoth Windows Phone 7 review, Anand and I both have been regularly using our respective WP7 devices. He's got the Focus and Optimus 7, and I'm still carrying around the working HTC Surround - as an aside, I still feel like I got screwed since I have the only phone out of the three with no dialer codes or cool tethering hacks. ;)

Anyhow, what's become pretty apparent using the devices much more is that third party application launch times can be pretty long. One of the most noteworthy workflows that comes to my mind is something I do almost continually - switch between browsing the web, and twitter. On WP7, the nice thing is that you can navigate back and forth by using the back button, but the problem is that because WP7's Twitter application quits and doesn't keep running in the background, you have to wait the entire launch time each time you switch between the two. For first party applications on WP7 that seem to keep running constantly, this isn't a problem, in fact, those are all super speedy, but some games and applications can take much longer than I'm used to on the fastest of Android devices or iPhone 4. To give you an example - it takes 7.1 seconds to launch Twitter on my HTC Surround.

Most of this I originally attributed to being a disk I/O problem, possibly stemming from the fact that WP7 mounts NAND and storage like internal microSD cards in a big JBOD. What we learned today is that disk I/O isn't the problem, the problem is memory management and how WP7 applications load assets into memory. 

Performance Improvement - App Load Time Difference
Bejweled 16.9 seconds
Fruit Ninja 6.2 seconds
ilomilo 5.1 seconds
Xbox Live Extras 8.2 seconds

We also recorded a video which really showcases the somewhat dramatic performance difference and loaded those games up, which I'll post whenever the glacially-slow WiFi here permits. The device we tested on was a Samsung Taylor running a build of WP7 versioned 7.0.7353.0. For comparison, retail WP7 devices are running 7.0.7004.0. 

The WP7 performance updates really only address application load times. We were told there are other optimizations in other areas, but most are relatively minor and don't have an appreciable difference. I asked about whether JavaScript or general loading performance in the browser would see a bump and was told the update would not bring any improvements in that area.

The next part of the update is of course copy and paste support. WP7's implementation looks a lot like what we expected it to - tapping on text highlights it, two triangular handles appear below, and a copy icon hovers above. Tapping that copies the selection into the clipboard. Next time you're in an appropriate field, at the far left of the autocorrect bar is a paste symbol. It's a little rough, and I wish there was a magnification effect or some cursor aide like exists in Android 2.3, but copy and paste is there. 

Finally, the update brings necessary changes to the software stack to play nice with CDMA2000/EvDo wireless networks like Sprint and Verizon in the US. 

What's a little bit disappointing about the whole thing is that Microsoft is being uncharacteristically vague about how fast these updates will roll out. The software update is due out in the next "couple of months," and CDMA devices on Verizon and Sprint are due out sometime in the first half of 2011. Previously, Microsoft promised a crawl, walk, run launch strategy for WP7, with rapid fire platform updates that would quickly fill in the gaps. As long as "couple of months" turns out to be under two or three, that's probably fine, but much more would really seem excessive. 

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  • DanNeely - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    Einstein kept his full head of hair to his grave. I think that makes it clear if geniuses go bald or not. :P
  • max - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    And there's one more thing - Steve Ballmer proves that not every bald man is genius :P

    BTW: I'm tired of this poor guy, which couldn't even provide us entertaining keynote. He should be retried long time ago.

    Steve Ballmer, I have forvarf for you: Get out of scene monkey boy, there are talented people which could help to drive M$ from mobile knees. Show your mercy to M$ - get lost ;)))
  • KarateBob - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    a Samsung Taylor running a build of WP7 versioned 7.0.753.0. For comparison, retail WP7 devices are running 7.0.7004.0

    The Builds went from 7004.0 down to 753.0?
  • Brian Klug - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    Oops, it's just a typo. Should be 7353 ;)


  • Stuka87 - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    I noticed in another site about this that they did not mention sales to customers. They talked about sales to carriers, but not how many of those handsets had been purchased by customers. To me the fact that you can buy one and get one free gives people the idea that the phone is a cheap, not so exclusive phone.

    Speed bumps and features additions are always a nice thing to have, although it makes me wonder why Copy and Paste wasn't available on launch, since they just launched what, three months ago?
  • day2die - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    I guess it has to compete with Verizon doing a free high end Android phones (like Droid Incredible) on contract .
  • mmatis - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    and unexposed APIs is undoubtedly the reason for the performance issues. Since the DOJ decided to not bother addressing the monopoly issue EVEN AFTER THEY HAD WON (undoubtedly due to an agreement that Microsoft would provide them back doors into their software), ANYBODY but Microsoft has been continually screwed by not having access to the unexposed APIs. Be sure to thank your fine friends in "Law Enforcement" for what they have done to this country. All to be able to violate the 4th Amendment. May they rot where they belong for what they have done.
  • cappie2000 - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Windows Phone 7 is a bit too dated and just has poor performance?

    The race is between Android and iOS... WP7 feels like something from 2004; sorry Balmer, you FAILED
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    No. We are currently using nine Win7 phones here at work, ranging from the HD7 to the HTC Trophy etc.

    None of the staff members have complained and THAT is a miracle. The phones are fast (Especially my HD7 compared to my older HD2)
  • day2die - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    It might help if you've actually use one of these phones.

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