Windows Phone 7 could be upgraded February 7; can Microsoft turn it around?

upgradeWe already know that Windows Phone 7 hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but there’s still hope in the shape of its imminent upgrade. LiveSide got wind that French enthusiasts sites predict the update may be here as soon as February 7. It’s codenamed “NoDo” (taking a swipe at Android’s own OS upgrade scheduling, the alias means “no donuts,” although this was refuted by a Microsoft employee) and thanks to CEO Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote, we already know it will bring copy-and-paste capability and generally improve app performance and marketplace search. There are also rumors that turn-by-turn navigation, multitasking, and custom ringtone functions will be added.

The timing seems right, since Ballmer is slated to speak at the Mobile World Congress on February 14. There’s also word that a second upgrade is already in the works, codenamed “Mango.” It would reportedly implement IE9, HTML5, Silverlight, and entertainment features. PhoneDog also notes that “Builds for Mango are in the 7500 range, meaning that it could end up coming out as Windows Phone 7.5.” But don’t expect to see Mango released closely to NoDo – it’s apparently going to be a large-scale upgrade.

All exciting things for Windows Phone 7, but they don’t negate the fact that the device is off to a bit of a disappointing start. A report today declared the phone “off to a slow start in fourth quarter,” and pointed out that the Windows Phone 7 was even bested by its predecessor, Windows Mobile. It hasn’t had the promising launch some thought or hoped it would, but we think Microsoft still has a chance to redeem itself with upgrades, provided they come soon enough to lure in new customers. Here are some of the features that the general tech community is calling for:

  • Get with Linux or another Open Source OS (like Android) and add its own modifications. PC Mag reasons that “Microsoft, like many other big commercial software companies, is scared to death of Open Source just because of the possibility that one of the many Open Source licenses will thrust everything the company does into the open source stew pot.”
  • Integrate better and more seamlessly with other Microsoft products like Zune, Xbox Live and Sharepoint.
  • Multitasking for third party apps would be a huge coup for Windows Phone 7 – so if it is truly on the way, then great.
  • Upgrade and upgrade now. Gizmodo makes a good point: Customers usually find plenty of problems with the first version of a new smartphone OS, and Window Phone 7 is no exception. Microsoft has been taking its good, sweet time with updates and impatience is mounting.
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