LAS VEGAS--The new Windows Phones have a lot of things that prior versions of Windows Mobile haven't had, most notably a cool factor.
But one thing that the 7 Series devices won't have--at least not this year's crop--is the ability to broadly copy and paste items. As earlier noted by Engadget, Microsoft confirmed on Tuesday that developers shouldn't expect to have access to a clipboard to allow users to copy and paste. Nor will Microsoft's own Office applications have copy and paste. That's despite the fact that it has been a staple of past versions of Windows Mobile for as long as I can recall.
"We don't enable copy and paste and we do that very intentionally," Windows Phone executive Todd Brix said in an interview.
Brix said many times when a user copies something on a phone, what they really are looking to do is take a specific action, such as calling a phone number or e-mailing an address. For those specific tasks, Microsoft has what it calls "smart linking," which lets a user double click on a phone number and either call it or add it to the phone book. For an address, one can get a map without having to copy and paste the address.
"It's actually an intentional design decision," he said. "We try to anticipate what the user wants so copy and paste isn't necessary."
But, particularly for a device that is going to include Word and other mobile Office applications, the concept of intelligent links doesn't seem sufficient. The BlackBerry for example, offers both intelligent links and a copy-and-paste system, which seems to me to be ideal.
Brix insists that most users won't miss copy and paste and said that it was a matter of focus; Microsoft said it wanted to really do well the tasks that 80 percent of users wanted.
"We tried to focus on what the core use cases were," Brix said. "Certainly there will be some people that wont be happy with some of those decisions."
If this feels like deja vu, a similar limitation hampered the initial iPhone, with Apple later going back and adding the feature.
As my colleague Jessica Dolcourt noted recently, it's not like users don't want copy and paste. We just take it for granted unless some one boldy chooses to omit it.
With the 7 Series taking so many cues from the iPhone, I'm surprised Microsoft didn't learn that lesson.