Windows Phone 7 in 2012: What should we expect?

We all know by now that Mango is most probably going to be the only major Windows Phone 7 update coming out this year (and that’s if it isn’t delayed until early 2012) and the changes it brings have for the most part already been announced. But there are still a few surprises that Microsoft hasn’t talked about yet that should be unveiled in a week during the MIX11 opening Keynote. It’s highly probable that there’s going to some talk about the upcoming NFC support and also new APIs for developers but I’m personally not expecting anything major in terms of new features.

February 2012 will mark the second anniversary of Windows Phone 7 ‘s unveiling and if assume that we know most of the features that will come with Mango it is safe to say that Microsoft didn’t really impress anybody since the operating systems official launch in October 2010. Sure, Multi-Tasking and an HTML5 compliant browser are great additions but they are also just helping the platform to play catch-up with the competition that already supports these features. What Microsoft needs to do is to introduce things that are new and not seen anywhere else. One can argue that the Metro UI is already a big differentiator but that’s already something of the past. The UI/UX wow factor is now gone. Microsoft has also yet to fix many of the shortcomings of the current implementation of its services in the platform shipping today.  I’ve already discussed most of them in my Windows Phone 7 review but it should be noted again and again that Bing Maps is light years behind Google Maps and Google Navigation and that even Bing Search on WP7 is way behind its iPhone version in terms of features. The quick integration of Nokia’s Ovi Maps into Bing Maps is going to be one of the most important tasks that Microsoft will have to accomplish if it hopes to compete with Android. Redmond has no time to waste in this department especially when you consider the fact that WP7 users outside of the US have an even worst mapping and search experience.

Another thing that Microsoft will have to talk about in the coming months if future hardware and SoC support. As I said a couple of weeks ago; Windows Phone 7 doesn’t desperately needs more powerful hardware but on the other hand OEMs have to sell devices not only based on their software capabilities but also on their hardware. It is going to be a tough job in the coming months for HTC to market its upcoming Windows Phone 7 handsets (the HTC Prime and HTC Ignite), which are supposedly powered by the relatively low-end MSM7230, next to the HTC Pyramid and EVO 3D powered by the MSM8X60 or even all the other “mid-range” MSM8255 powered devices like the Incredible S and Desire S. Microsoft will have to come up with new chassis that cover a vast array of price points but also improve on what’s currently available, which means more powerful SoCs (besides the improved Adreno 205 GPU the MSM7230 is for the most part identical to the currently used QSD8250). This is arguably going to be the trickiest part of the platform’s evolution; Nokia want’s to ship tons of cheaper Windows Phone devices while the other OEMs would want to improve on the end-user experience by packing more power-full hardware and all this would have to be done without causing too much fragmentation.

There’s also the question of the future Kernel powering Windows Phone 8. Some people are starting to suggest that Microsoft will use the upcoming Windows 8 ARM Kernel as the basis of WP8 but this would be another major task that Microsoft will have to handle in a relatively short time. It would also seem rather illogical to use a totally new and untested Kernel in such a short notice especially after starting Windows Phone from scratch just 2 years ago. We will have to listen closely to what Microsoft is going to say at MIX11 because there will probably be several hints that will either confirm or infirm the move to the Win 8 kernel.

I personally think that it’s safe to say that Windows Phone 7’s future is still for the most part a mystery that will hopefully be unveiled in the coming weeks or months. Microsoft is not in the best position right now and Nokia’s partnership will only be successful if the integration of Nokia’s IP is done as fast as possible and if the Finnish mobile juggernaut also starts shipping Windows Phones in volume in the first half of 2012.

So what do you do you hope to see in Windows Phone 7.5 / 8 ?

  • Ccmd_232

    Should be reinovated with the upcoming Silverlight 5 with all it’s great capabilities instead of Silverlight 3 with some portions of Silverlight 4. Not going to mention already existing technologies (such as front-facing camera, sawpable SD’s,etc…) as I assume these should be done already with the next patch of the WP7 hardware/software before WP 7.5/8

  • Anonymous

    I’m still waiting for MS to integrate Office Mobile 2010 with SkyDrive. Apart from OneNote, the mobile apps are a waste of time, unless you like emailing attachments to yourself.

    Another huge problem I’d like to see addressed is the implementation of Tasks across WindowsLive and WP7 (using Outlook and Outlook Connector). How is it you can sync appointments, but not Tasks?! This is either due to laziness or plain old ignorance.

    Lastly, the freakin’ Live Tiles aren’t being used enough. Even MS’s Weather app doesn’t support Live Tile integration, which is really a huge embarrassment.

    MS needs to focus on these details, and their crappy update process, before looking to the horizon with the notion that the Nokia partnership, SoC support, or WP8 kernel will somehow give them a larger share of the smartphone market. MS needs to focus on keeping their current customers happy.

  • Stunka88

    The Feb update….

  • Will

    I hope that at least a 4G Windows Phone with wifi hotspot/tethering will be available this year. Android’s had it for awhile and now that Apple just recently officially added wifi hotspot capabilities with OS 4.3 they should work on getting that out asap.

  • Anonymous

    Given that carriers are moving away from unlimited data plans, tethering will soon become a very expensive proposition. Why not just buy a mobile broadband card for your laptop if you’re interested in that sort of thing?

  • Will

    I’ve seen that it can be a lot cheaper just tethering from your smartphone than getting a whole new plan and new broadband card, and then maybe even adding another contract. Pretty much cost is the only reason.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear…there will no longer be any “free” of “cheap” tethering. T-Mobile and ATT (soon to be one in the same) are now charging extra for, and throttling, data that results from tethering. That’s right, you have to pay extra if you are a data hog, and even then they reserve the right to throttle your connection. I haven’t checked other carriers lately, but I expect this to become the industry standard now that there are fewer carriers to choose from.

    While I hate that fact that they’re doing this, it does make sense. I’ve only used tethering on select occasions (with my old TouchPro 2), but I don’t doubt there are people who abuse this feature, especially with 4G speeds. Personally, I’m in favor of giving up tethering (or pay for it if I really want it) to ensure that people who are inclined to use well over 5Gb of data per month don’t break the network’s back. Could you imagine if everyone was tethering, streaming Netflix, or using FaceTime over the mobile network??? I’m dreading the T-Mo/ATT merger because ATT’s network is already notoriously overburdened. It’s only fair to eliminate tethering, or make people pay more if they are gonna bleed the network dry.

  • http://twitter.com/efjay01 Ef Jay

    Dont see anything really exciting coming to WP7, MS moves too slow to bring anything really new to the table, rivals will have been there, done that.

  • Will

    I understand where you’re coming from, I really hope that merger doesn’t do that. I could be totally wrong but I’m thinking that the average user that tethers or uses broadband cards are not a data hog and uses the service responsibly. I’m guessing that the only people that ATT or T-Mobile actually throttles their speeds are people who reasonably abuse the system and try to take advantage. In that case it’s understandable. But I’m ok with charging a little more for tethering, just don’t charge an outrageous amount or something that at least saves me money instead of buying a whole other card and plan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alpeev Max Alpeev

    Ringtone Manager =)

  • http://lucadifino.wordpress.com/ Luca

    WP7 needs:
    System wide text to speech and voice to text (not only in the US).
    More integration: contact news should contain all kind of communication with an user (mail, text, twitter, rss, etc) not only facebook updates. Contact tile pinned on start screen should show numbers for new activities.
    Skype.
    Photo hub should include main web services (flickr, picasa, etc)
    App list should be more maneageable: split by categories (as in Zune) or by name (as in contact list) or by custom folders.
    Some more suggestion can be found at http://lucadifino.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/how-microsoft-should-improve-windows-phone-7-people-hub/

  • http://www.facebook.com/aleksandra.sekar Aleksandra Sekar

    Global marketplace, really. I can’t download apps in Indonesia? WTF is that?