Microsoft officially launched Windows Phone 7 today, but Redmond is already dropping hints at an exciting, innovative feature to come next year: the ability to temporarily store (or "copy") text, then insert (or "paste") it elsewhere.
Copy and paste has numerous uses for a smartphone purportedly designed to support productivity applications such as Office. For example, you may write a four-sentence email, then decided the third sentence would be better if it came before the second. With a copy-and-paste feature, you could easily select the text you want to move and place it in the desired portion of your document, thus saving the trouble of retyping.
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Additionally, if you wanted to share a portion of an article or a URL from your Web browser, you would be able to copy the desired text from your browser, then paste it into an email, Word document, or anywhere else.
The aforementioned feature will prove especially useful for Windows Phone 7 since it lacks full multitasking capabilities. It means, for example, that certain third-party apps will shut down if you open others. In the time it takes to close one app and open another, you might forget the text you'd intended to copy and paste. (Microsoft has not said whether full multitasking will be part of the software update that will deliver copy and paste.)
Microsoft's justification for excluding copy and paste in the first version of its long-awaited mobile platform is entirely reasonable: The ability to highlight text and launch a standard phone or browser feature such as "Search" or "Call" is sufficient. "We try to solve the most common uses for copy and paste via single-tap action. For example, people often want to take an address and view it on a map, highlight a term in the browser and do a search, or copy a phone number to make a call. Instead of the user manually doing a copy and paste in these scenarios, we recognize those situations automatically and make them happen with just one touch," Microsoft said in a statement earlier this year.
Though critics have chastised Microsoft for opting to forgo a feature that enables the most basic editing, the company argued it had to be selective in what it included in the first iteration of the platform. Unmoved by iPhone users' successful lobbying for Apple to add cut and paste to its device, Microsoft understandably put other critical features ahead in line -- such as Xbox support.
This article, "Newfangled copy and paste coming to Windows Phone 7 in 2011," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.