What Windows Phone 7 doesn't have becomes a hot topic

Some say Microsoft just needs time to get things right

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That one issue is seen by some reviewers and developers as ironic, given that Microsoft developed Word for text processing and has incorporated the Office suite in WP7 as one of the hubs, with the ability to edit PowerPoint slides, launch and use Word and add data to an Excel spreadsheet, according to some early previews posted on Youtube.

As for multitasking, forum visitor "Binks821" in May called for services that would allow Pandora and other apps to play in the background: "In this market, it's all about apps, and from the user's perspective, [WP7] will be a no-go because the other two main competitors (Android and iPhone) will have better multi-tasking."

The absence of a native Twitter client (Facebook is well-supported) earned the consternation of many early reviewers, as did the lack of a single in-box for various e-mail accounts. Other forum visitors asked for developer access to a gyroscope and direct access to the camera software so they could build more apps to sell in Microsoft's marketplace.

Despite the tendency to focus on what is missing in WP7, one industry analyst urged patience. "I doubt that this will be the only version they release and they are committed for the long term," Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said of Microsoft. "They just have to convince everyone to stop bashing them and to give them a chance."

Dulaney said the public should be rooting for Microsoft as well as Research In Motion, Android, Symbian and even Meego as competition against Apple "lest we evolve to a market like the PC, where there was one dominant player and everyone complained there wasn't enough competition."

Dulaney said WP7 is a "huge reset" and that Microsoft will "need time to get to a competitive position. They may fail, but they need to be given a few chances to swing the bat."

Dulaney said the lack of multitasking "probably won't hurt," depending on how the final version of the operating system works when compared with the iPhone.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates, warned against judging the final WP7 based only on what's known about it now. However, he agreed that the lack of copy-and-paste "will be painful to many users" who want it for Office functions.

More important than the features ultimately supported in WP7 -- or even which device makers build it -- is which carriers sign on to sell the phones. "Verizon took on the Kin, [and] with the Kin disaster, Verizon my be a little leery," Gold said.

A Verizon official refused to comment on its plans for WP7, and other major U.S. carriers could not be reached for comment.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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