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Windows Phone 7 gets webOS multitasking, IE9, Kinect hooks

updated 12:10 pm EST, Mon February 14, 2011

Microsoft answers back with Windows Phone 7

Microsoft during its Mobile World Congress event showed a trio of major updates, among others, that will come to Windows Phone 7 later in the year and which it hopes will challenge Apple. The platform will finally get multitasking and is using a system heavily reminiscent of HP's webOS cards: jumping out shows all of the running apps as thumbnails of their current state and allows switching with simple flicks. Battery issues have reportedly been tackled, and third-part apps now have a wide range of privileges that includes background audio, among others.

The company used a browser upgrade as an opportunity to take a shot at iOS. WP7 will upgrade from the Internet Explorer 7 engine to the much faster and more accurate Internet Explorer 9 engine. Pages now load more accurately through graphics acceleration and, in some cases, outperform Safari on an iPhone. A demo showed an HTML5 animation playing smoothly on a WP7 device where an iPhone struggled.

A web-based HTML5 video, however, provided some embarrassment as the WP7 phone lost its Internet connection.

Microsoft also escalated its gaming presence by previewing the possibility of integrating Windows Phone 7 and Kinect in a game. Users could play one end of a tech demo, Rally Ball, by flicking balls with their finger while a Kinect player used the Xbox motion controller to hit them back. It's not evident if this will ever reach shipping Kinect games but did work.

Other updates are bringing automatic photo uploads on a wider level, tighter Xbox Live integration, SkyDrive cloud editing in the Office hub, and Twitter reaching the People hub. The copy-and-paste text update already promised is due in early March, but the other updates don't yet have timeframes and may be staggered.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Microsoft Is So Full Of Hope Lately

    Among other things.

  1. Tim_s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not Really

    It isn't true multitasking. It's "multitasking" like in iOS, not like webOS. WP7 just allows fast saving and relaunching of apps. That's not real multitasking.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Getting better...

    WP7 shows a lot of promise, but was simply far behind everyone else. Cut and Paste and multitasking are key improvements, and catches WP7 up to the current versions of Android, WebOS, and iOS.

    The delta for WP7 has always been its XBox connectivity, and Microsoft really needs to push that hard if it wants to survive in this game.

    Unfortunately, the rules in this game are tilted against Microsoft. In this game, no mobile OS has to have a big market in order to be competitive. All you need is a competitive browser and most of the basic apps (email, calendar, notes) and social apps (Facebook, Twitter). Apps are important, but not the killers that people believe. No one is going to go from one to another because it has certain apps. This is not Microsoft vs. Apple in the 1990s.

    However, this rule doesn't apply to Microsoft and WP7. If Microsoft can't grab a large share of the market, it will be considered a failure and another sign of its irrelevancy in the market. It has to be one of the top three operating systems in the mobile space.

  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    just one more thing...

    WP7 will eventually...come with a pony! Yes, a pony for everyone buying a WP7 phone!

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    why unfortunately? titled against mirrosoft? how's that?
    if anything nothing is ever titled against mircrosoft. take the xbox. they pumped unreal fortunes into keeping it alive before it's first profitable quarter. nintendo and sony could never lose that kind of money to "compete" (is it really competeing when you can never ever lose?).
    if they choose to stay in the market (zune? anyone? anyone at all?) they'll use the cash cow twins to stay.

    the market has no say in any of it with them. they have fortunes to lose and do, regularly. yearly. so they can "compete".

  1. mjtomlin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @ Tim_s

    "It's "multitasking" like in iOS, not like webOS. WP7 just allows fast saving and relaunching of apps."

    Oh please. Let's not go there. How is it any different to a user? iOS still allows applications to continue processing in the background, the developer just has to explicitly request it from the OS when the app is losing focus from user interaction (no longer the "active" application).

    If the OS didn't have this limitation, apps could run amok.

  1. Tim_s

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I don't have any problems with webOS apps running amok on my phone, and it has true multitasking. And I'm not trying to troll here, just telling the truth. Plus, it's the only truly open phone OS. OK, that was a bit of trolling, but it's still true. I've hacked my phone left, right and center, and the only thing that has voided my warranty is a hardware hack I performed.

    And to be honest, the only reason I have a webOS phone is because iPhone isn't on Sprint.

  1. mjtomlin

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "User multitasking" is a misnomer... Users can only do one thing at a time on a computer, they cannot multitask. There is always only one application that is interacting with the user at any given time. I've never met anyone who could browse/read web pages while typing or doing anything else at the exact same time. This is almost impossible for human beings to do. Even on desktop computers, have you ever seen someone typing up a paper in a word processor and playing a game at the same time? No. We have the ability to switch our attention from one application to another, but no operating system allows user interaction of more than one application at a time.

    Multitasking refers to the operating system's ability to execute more than one process at a time. On single core systems this is done through time slicing, on multiple core processors it's done through distribution + time slicing. iOS does in fact have true multitasking, there are many processes running in the background at any given time. Even before Apple allowed 3rd party apps to run in the background, iOS still multitasked.

    I'm not sure how webOS implements backgrounding, but by default under iOS, the application goes into a dormant state. The developer must explicitly request a specific type of backgrounding service to continue any processing when the app is pushed into the background. To a user running the application, they do not see any difference.

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