Near-field Communication seems like next big thing in mobile right now, with Google implementing it in Gingerbread, and rumors of Apple to integrate it already floating around.
Microsoft is now joining the party with Windows Phone 7, according to Bloomberg today, in an article saying that Microsoft is planning on including mobile payments in "Next Windows Phone." Bloomberg says that "users would be able to pay for items in stores by bumping a Windows Phone device against a compatible cash register."
Apparently, Microsoft is pinned to get support NFC from Nokia as part of their Windows Phone partnership deal. Nokia has already announced that NFC will be a "standard feature" this year in its line up of Symbian based smartphones. Bloomberg also points out that Microsoft actually holds 14 patents already for NFC, with the latest of these being given to the software giant on March 22.
It's unclear if the "next version" of Windows Phone implies the new generation of handsets that may be released with "Mango" or a future update, potentially "Windows Phone 8." Either way, NFC could be another feature in Microsoft's arsenal against Google's Android. It's worth noting that Google's current "flagship" phone -- the Nexus S -- has built in NFC support, though uptake for the protocol has been slow.
Right now, Microsoft is in the middle of rolling out Windows Phone 7's first "major" update -- NoDo -- to handsets across the world, which brings new features such as Copy & Paste to the platform. If you haven't got NoDo, check out our upgrade guide.