Interview: Windows Phone 7 battery life, copy/paste, multitasking, and more

In an interview with senior director for Mobile Platform Services Product Management, Todd Brix, Neowin learned many things about the Windows Phone 7 Series platform and what we can expect as end-users. Videoing was not allowed, but here are some of the things that we've learned.

Customizing UI colors:

This was an interesting discussion. The short answer is that a user can decide if they want email to be shown with black text on a white background, or vice versa. From what Brix said, the reason Microsoft decided to use a lot of dark backgrounds is because they use less power, thereby increasing battery life. Black pixels don't emit light. This may have been a slip on his part, because it assumes that all Windows Phone 7 devices will have OLED screens. LED screens would still use power to display blacks, as the backlight is always on. It seems from his answer that Microsoft may push all WP7S device makers to use OLED. We'll see what happens as a final release gets closer.

Battery life:
The development models that are being used differ. Depending which build it's running, or if it's been optimized for performance or for power saving, results will vary. But, Microsoft will not release the OS until the phone can make it through a full day on a single charge.

Copy and paste:
It's not available in current builds, and developers are being told that it's not available; however, this is what Todd had to say:
"I don't think we've talked about the different models are for copy paste on Windows Phone 7." Brix then goes on to say that there's something that Microsoft calls, "delighters." These are things that users want in the platform and can be announced any time between now and release. When pressed to ask if his official answer was "no comment," he responded that "we have a bunch of things we’ll be talking about later," and Microsoft doesn't want to just throw things out there that aren't ready to show to the public. The end-all is that copy/paste could very well be part of Windows Phone 7 in the future, but as of now, it's not part of the code. Later in the day, Nilay Patel of Engadget asked Brix, specifically, if copy and paste is one of the "delighters" and he told him "no." Everyone is hearing something different. Just don't expect it come launch.

GPS turn-by-turn navigation:
There will not be any Bing Maps Navigation or anything of the sort. WP7S, as an OS, will not ship with any sort of navigation application. However, phone manufactures can bundle them in and use Microsoft APIs to tie it into the phone's system. He notes that a lot of companies are interested creating such apps for the platform.

Third-party app multitasking:
You can receive calls while you're running a third party app. You can even play a game while you're talking on the phone. The OS allows one third-party app to run at any given time. Built in apps, like web, email, and phone, all run in the background at the same time without a problem, regardless of what else else is running. When you close an application, it suspends the state and closes it to save battery. If you then re-open it, you can pick up where you left off. It's a very solid mid ground between true multitasking, and no multitasking. They call it "smart multitasking;" it seems very sensible. Notifications can still work for apps that are in a suspended state.

OTA updates:
Brix wouldn't say if OS updates would be released over-the-air, but he did say that there will be some sort of update mechanism for getting security releases, and other updates to the user. Other sources told Engadget that there will be OTA updates, but which types of updates will utilize that sort of delivery service remains to be seen.

Mobile IE version:
Sadly, this won't be any form of IE9, which is starting to look like a real competitior in the browser wars. For the mobile browser, the team started with IE7 and made some enhancements as they neared the release of IE8. So it's somewhere in between the two.

Syncing documents with Skydrive:

He didn't have a specific answer, but other representatives mentioned that it will happen, but due to the accelerated timeframe for WP7S, it's not currently part of the OS, and won't be available at launch. However, SharePoint integration is there front and center for businesses to take advantage of.

Wireless sync for all media content:
When a user enters his home's wireless network, the phone and PC will automatically begin talking and syncing back and forth. This will allow the phone and PC to always be up to date and in sync with each other. The phone does not have to be plugged into a power source for this to occur.

Windows Mobile losing market share:
When asked if he thinks it's too late for Microsoft to re-capture all the market share lost to other OSes, especially in the business sector (to RIM), he responded that "who's ahead now, is going to be very different, we think, from who's going to be ahead in three years. Who was ahead three years ago, is different from who's ahead now." He said that Microsoft thinks the mobile market is still in its "early days" and that Windows Phone 7 will be "highly competitive." The smartphone market is still growing at an insane pace, and Microsoft plans to be a big part of that. He predicts that "the next three years are going to define the next ten years in the smartphone market."

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