Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system will be getting multitasking later this year with an interface that looks like a direct copy of Palm’s (now HP’s) WebOS platform.
Multitasking refers to the ability to use more than one application at once. For mobile devices, it usually involves creative methods to keep apps running, as well as easy ways to juggle them.
To switch between apps, Windows Phone 7 users will be able to use a card-like task manager that gives them a live preview of running apps. The interface is heavily reminiscent of (read: almost exactly the same as) Palm’s WebOS, which was praised for its intuitive approach to multitasking. Microsoft isn’t the only company that’s imitating WebOS, by the way — RIM is using a similar card-based interface to move between apps on its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.
The multitasking update will be available some time later this year, Microsoft announced today at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona. According to Joe Belfiore, vice president of Windows Phone Program Management, multitasking for third-party apps was left out of the initial release of WP7 due to battery concerns. Now it seems those issues have been resolved. Belfiore didn’t explain what improvements made multitasking possible.
Speaking of features that didn’t make the cut for launch, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned that the long-awaited copy and paste feature will be available on WP7 in an early March update. That update will also bring CDMA compatibility, which means Windows Phone devices will finally be able to work on Verizon and Sprint’s network.
Microsoft also demonstrated some other new features that will hit Windows Phone 7 later this year, including integration with Twitter in its People hub (currently only Facebook is supported), and an update to the mobile web browser with the release of Internet Explorer 9 for mobile. IE9 will feature hardware and graphics acceleration that will make browsing the web faster than the iPhone — in fact, Microsoft brought out an iPhone on stage to show just how slow it was in comparison.
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