Windows Phone 7 Series will have copy & paste, eventually

Contrary to the controversial report out of Microsoft MIX10 this week that Windows Phone 7 Series will not feature copy & paste functionality, a person close to the den explained that copy & paste is definitely a scenario and feature that the team is putting a lot of thought about and hope to bring to the platform soon after initial release.

Let’s not forget Microsoft already knows at least one way to do copy & paste from Windows Mobile, but this was one of many scenarios they want to refine to fit in the context of their new user experience which already has a lot of “smarts” for automatically connecting data between applications – for example, detecting and hotlinking addresses in emails to Bing Maps.

As it turns out, the development team actually knows exactly how they will be implementing copy & paste in WP7S but did not believe it could be implemented without affecting the release schedule they’ve committed to and therefore will be including it in an update down the road.

I’m sure they can deliver it sooner than Apple did it (2 years).

90 insightful thoughts

  1. Thats fine but I think it puts more emphasis on the need to clarify how OS updates will be handled. At least I haven’t heard anything regarding this. If they are taking the Zune approach, taking control of firmware updates via Zune software, then that is news I certainly will celebrate.

  2. You, I moaned and complained about the lack of C&P on the iPhone from the point that I got the 3G until they baked it in. I was so excited… but I hardly ever use it.

    1. That’s only ur perogative. Others choose to use it obsessively and see the absence of C&P as a disruption to the positive status quo. C&P a must for some, not so much for others. I wouldn’t buy a device that didn’t have something I had to have such as C&P. As such, I will wait until WP7 has C&P and continue to use my WM6.1 phone that does have it. That’s what all those iPhone 3G complainers should have done instead of taking up space on internet boards complaining about it being such a deal breaker. If the device doesn’t have the “it” feature you have to have, DON’T BUY IT. Do your homework before you buy.

  3. Lack of C&P is far more of a “perceived” deficit than a real one. Back when the iPhone was sans the functionality everyone was touting it as one of the major ways in which the iPhone was “inferior” to Windows phones for serious work, without really motivating as to WHY that was the case (“it just is!”). Prior to iPhone 3.x I too was on the bandwagon of “it’s a real pity it doesn’t have C&P” and was happy when they finally added it.

    The reality however is that I hardly ever use the feature, and I really didn’t miss it prior to 3.x, in fact I would far better have preferred a hotlinking approach to things like phone numbers and perceived names, allowing me to click the item to add it to the relevant information (if the iPhone has it, great, unfortunately it doesn’t work with my country’s phone #’s if that’s the case), meaning that on those rare occasions I do actually have to make use of the feature (or otherwise use a pen and paper as temporary storage).

    I’m not looking to write large office documents on my phone, I can’t imagine that ANYONE does that, and if they do then they’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Leave that to the desktop/laptop/netbook realm which is suited to those kinds of use cases and start using your phone as a phone/planner/note taker (note not word processor)/communication tool instead, which is what it’s built for, and which, from a usability perspective, is really what you’re going to get the most use from.

    1. It depends on what you do with your phone, Richard, same as with a physical keyboard. A lot of people who use the iPhone are happy with an on-screen keyboard, but a lot of people aren’t.

      Personally, I wouldn’t be looking to write large office documents, I’d be looking to clip information for note-taking purposes or for inclusion in e-mails. Clipping information can include a lot more things than phone numbers and names.

  4. Bravo! A balanced and level headed post regarding a rather touchy subject. lol I figured they’d eventually, but I still don’t understand the level of outrage from the internets. Concern? Sure, but the man there’s some folks just going absolutely batty.

  5. I’m perplexed as to why implementing it would be so complicated. The clipboard is an old, simple concept that’s existed in computers for decades and is a standard, no-brainer feature in almost all phones these days (even really cheap, “dumb” phones have basic clipboard support).

    The way the clipboard is implemented in (desktop) Windows is complicated for historic/stupid reasons, but given WP7S is a clean-break from all that there’s no reason it has to be complex, and everyone else seems to have managed it. (Sure, it took Apple a long time, but if “we’re only as bad as Apple” is the benchmark for WP7S then they might as well not bother.)

    Perhaps there’s some complexity I’m not thinking of, but I can’t see why when other phones have perfectly good clipboards.

    I mean, it’s not rocket science to have the OS store a (type-string,value-string) map which apps can query/set for the type(s) they’re interested in. Any large or non-string data could be stored in temp-files whose lifetime is tied to the corresponding map entries. Am I missing something here about how doing that is somehow more complex on WP7S than on any other phone or OS?

    1. thenonhacker: Like I said, if “we’re only as bad as Apple” is the motto of WP7S then I don’t see the point of it.

      You have to do BETTER than the incumbent market player if you want people to buy your product instead of sticking with the more established brand. And at this point in time even Apple have copy & paste (just like every other phone platform of any note, except for WP7S).

      Ditto the story about not giving users and/or developers the *option* of multitasking 3rd party apps where it makes sense. I don’t care if Apple did the same, it prevents certain types of app from being possible at all and makes flicking between apps much slower. Rumour has it Apple are soon adding multitasking for 3rd party apps, too.

      Ditto the story with locked-down app distribution: I don’t care if Apple do it as well. The fact that Apple do is one of the things that puts me off buying an iPhone and I was hoping MS would bring out something better, not something identically flawed.

      WP7S isn’t going to be released for months and it’s already missing some fairly fundamental features compared to the competition.

    2. I think the issue isn’t down to the storage of the copied data but the interface for performing a copy and paste – like the iPhone (and unlike WinMo) there is no concept of a context menu in WP7S so they need to come up with an alternative way that doesn’t feel clunky or that they’ll regret later.

      That said, that doesn’t mean to say they can simply ignore it. I’m encouraged to hear that it’s very much on the roadmap (if that’s true), but it wouldn’t half help appease those like me who are upset at losing a lot of the power and flexibility of WinMo if MS could reveal the update story to us and explain how and when we might expect to receive enhancements.

    3. I don’t think the challenge is in implementing the technical aspect of c&p but rather the UX aspect. How will they implement it in a way that jives with WP7S.

    4. You really cannot compare Apple taking two years to implement copy and paste and Windows 7 not implementing it.

      Apple took two years to implement Copy and Paste because they were trying to figure out how to implement it in a completely touch screen device in a way that’s natural. There’s no menu, no right-clicking mouse button, and no menu bar. How do you select your text? How do you implement the command to cut, copy, or paste? How do you do an “undo”?

      Consider the issue of selecting text. Do you use two fingers to drag? If you use two fingers, how does the OS know you’re selecting text and not shrinking or enlarging the screen? Maybe the user will touch the screen with a single finger and hold, but for how long, and if that’s the case, how do they select the text?

      However, now it’s a “solved” problem, there isn’t any reason why Microsoft can’t implement the feature in a similar fashion — and maybe even improve upon it.

    5. Even text-only copy/paste (like I already had on my Siemens S65 phone years ago, which I wouldn’t even label a smartphone) would be enough, if you can initiate in any text input field (and preferably select/copy text from label like GUI controls as well).

  6. I originally posted that it was a stupid move, and I was thinking today that I use copy & paste at least once a day. Then I realized as I watched myself today that most of my copy/paste activity is because of things not being auto-linked the way I’d expect it to be. If it’s really addressed in WP7S, then I can probably live without it… for a short time. But I still insist that it needs to be released QUICKLY.

  7. Hilarious that folks talk about people “going batty” about this when there were endless Microsoft folk “going batty” for the 2 years that iPhone didn’t support cut and paste. How different things are when the shoe’s on the other foot!

    The “It took Apple 2 years” is hilariously irrelevant. Nobody cares about how long something took in the past -. all they care about is what’s available at the time they make their purchase, Apple will have had cut and paste for quite a time and in a world where stupid “snap judgements” are made (so sick of hearing that Windows Phone is just an iPhone “me too” product) this is just one more comparison that doesn’t help.

  8. Wait, what?

    You’re saying that Windows Phone 7 Series “will have copy & paste, eventually” even though your unnamed source says only that it’s something that’s “a scenario” but that Tony Brix, Senior Director for Mobile Platform Services Product Management, is directly quoted as saying “We don’t enable copy and paste and we do that very intentionally”? Hmm, either you’re wrong or Tony’s lying. Neither reflects very well on Microsoft.

    1. The Microsoft executive’s name is Todd Brix, not Tony, who is Sr. Dir. for Mobile Platform Services Product Management.

  9. I’d rather they delay the release and put Copy and Paste, take an extra week for Cut as well and get it in the initial release!

    How can they not have time to put such a basic function into their OS! Should have been in there from day 1!

  10. I hardly ever use Copy and Paste on my Android Phone. Hotlinking is a more intuitive approach. However in apps like OneNote, it should be implemented somewhat…

    I am still in love with this phone though…

  11. hmmm.. so there’s an audio clip of the Director for Mobile services (on engadget) saying that there are a number of updates planned and that copy and paste is definitely *not* among them. He cites user research and that users ‘don’t use it’. I believe that the person close to the den is mistaken.

    I also believe that, if properly implemented, a clever inline text solution might be as useful to a lot of users as copy and paste

    1. I agree, but there’s also no reason they can’t give people both, which is what every other phone I’ve used in the last few years already does.

      On my current, awful, cheap piece of **** phone which can barely do anything right, if I select a number then I’m given the options of:

      - Dialling it
      - Adding it to a new/existing contact
      - Inserting it into a new text message
      - Copying it to the clipboard

      The two concepts are not mutually exclusive and having both is not a difficult engineering problem. (Perhaps making the text-selection UI work well on a small, touch-screen device is non-trivial, but surely they have to solve that problem anyway if they want the device to have a decent text editor.)

      Nobody would argue against smartlinking but there are times when you just want to take the literal text from one place and put it in another, and it’s not possible for the OS to predict all of those times, especially when the source and/or destination may be 3rd party apps or websites.

      It’s not essential to our survival of a species but I can’t see any excuse to lack this feature which every other phone platform seems to have (most of them having had it for years and years).

      It really doesn’t help that Microsoft are trying to use the “this isn’t the feature you’re looking for” Jedi mind trick on people who really do want the feature, are used to the feature, and know they use the feature (despite having smartlinking as well).

      I agree with your scepticism about the conflicting messages about whether or not it will be added, too. Maybe it will be added in the future but in my life I’ve learned to ignore promises made in response to feedback on preview. How many application, device or game previews have we read where the article points out a number of flaws, omissions or bugs but notes that the developers promise to fix them before the release, only to discover that the release is identical to what was previewed? :)

      (As a software developer, I have sympathy about how tempting it is to promise that everything will be made perfect ASAP, and that most devs take pride and really do want to achieve that, but I also know the reality that few make good on those promises, and Microsoft are hardly the most responsive company in the world when it comes to adding features or fixing non-security bugs in any product they make.)

  12. Cool I guess, but its just a simple text code stored of the temp memory, I’m no coder but cmon it can’t be that hard guys. On a diff note I think people “certain people/sites we all see online” have to remind them selfs and get reminded “DID YOU KNOW IT’S NOT EVEN OUT YET” and they have 9 months to add new features as well as monthly updates to all the handsets once it comes out, so don’t freak out yet.
    It would be more of a big deal if it was out and didn’t have c&p etc etc bla bla.. but its not out they have tons of time. Though I personally think too much time, its enough time for any other company to just copy new things Microsoft is doing & release it before 7series. but anyway, all us/you/me/we Tech’y Nerds, Geeks & maybe a few painted blue navi people which are a bit disturbing “I do Love Avatar though” just keep sending all the right jabber jabber of holes, problems, should have, shouldn’t have’s towards 7series at all these shows, keynotes, press shows etc & if they listen enough to the right ones we’ll get an awesome device “hopefully here in Canada as well, anythin zune related seems to fear the north” So ya, I want WP7s……. I just noticed I may be ranting….. maybe cause its 2am & I just did a 3rd check of several tech sites looking for 7series news videos photos and am now really tired…
    you know its the same with project natal so many people think its going to replace the 360 controller, its not, and its not an eyetoy, it doesn’t just track the image difference from one frame to the next and respond, it tracks your entire body, room, hands, fingers, feet, facial expressions, voice, and tracks several people at the same time all in three dimensional space, ugh… so annoying. ok I’m tired, goodnight.

    p.s. I do like how this site usually always has intelligent commenters, nice to get away from all the trolls and fanboys once in a while.

  13. They should be more open about this. Like at least online…state that copy and paste is in the works.
    It’s something that could potentially affect sales on the tech savvy/blogger side.

  14. “Contrary to the controversial report out of Microsoft MIX10 this week that Windows Phone 7 Series will not feature copy & paste functionality, a person close to the den explained that copy & paste is definitely a scenario and feature that the team is putting a lot of thought about and hope to bring to the platform soon after initial release.”

    The latter clause (“putting thought into it”) is NOT CONTRARY to the former (“WP7S is shipping without copy & paste.”) When your apologizing requires completely nonsensical contortions of logic, it is not a good sign.

  15. Isn’t Windows Phone 7 coming 3 years after iPhone was launched. it should at least have all the features current iPhone offers.

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  17. “I’m sure they can deliver it sooner than Apple did it (2 years).”

    It’s taken them more than three years and they still haven’t provided a competitive alternative to iPhone version 1. So it definitely isn’t assured.

  18. this is really bulshit. imagine that you have seen a nice picture with a joke and you want to send it to your friend by email or SMS. then you simply can not do it!! who decided that copy and paste function is not necessary is really an stupid.

  19. Windows 7 Phone Series is shaping up to be an excellent entry into the next generation of smart phones. The Copy & Paste issue is being brought up as an issue, because it is one of the few “problems” people can find with this platform. Most tech sites exaggerate the problem to get clicks – typical media. Few things to think about:
    1.) Implementing C&P may not be as easy as people assume and will it be exposed to all apps – if so, they need to build that into API support so that apps that choose to, can recognize this functionality.
    2.) Does cross app C&P break any sandboxing designed into the product? Again, let’s not assume this is a simple product to fix. Could be security is also a concern here.
    3.) The other positive features offered by the phone FAR outweigh this “issue” for alot of people I’ve talked to. This may not be true for everyone, but the initial release of this product needs to be as polished as possible – C&P should be perfected before it’s just taped on.

    Excited and definitely looking at getting one to replace my iPhone!

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  21. quick copy and paste example: if i text you the wireless key for my wifi network, you should be able to copy the 26 character string and paste it into the authentication dialog when you configure it on your phone. i do this a lot, and the lack of copy and paste is a reason why i’ll stay with windows mobile 6.5 for now

  22. Well, this is a poor example of Microsoft copying Apple. Copy and Paste in the mobile realm, especially with todays ultra capable phones poses many challenges. The right piece of malware could create a mobile botnet with pseduo-broadband connections and virtually unfettered access due to new IP availabiliy. I think both companies engineers have realized this, and are handling it as such.

  23. I truly don’t see what the big deal is about cut/copy/paste on a mobile phone. I’ve only seen one comment that offers a plausible reason for having it (posted by “name” 3/19/2010 at 7:15pm) – to copy/paste a 26 char string for a wireless key. Other than that, I really don’t think there are that many other uses. There will be tap-and-hold functionality in Windows Phone 7 to bring up a context menu. You can try it for yourself in the Emulator. So, if I’m browsing a website and I find a picture I like, I can simply long-tap and a menu with options such as Share to Windows Life, Share to Facebook, Share to Text Messaging, etc.

    I think everyone should just wait and try it out. If you REALLY need cut/copy/paste on your cell phone, then obviously WP7 isn’t for you right now.

  24. Really looking forwar to Windows phone7. Hope they incorporate Copy Paste feature, and Windows Live Calendar Live Sync, with windows Live and Outlook. Hope we can also have features like adding/Conferencing in other callers Call Waiting,, Find my phone, tracking friends, Microsoft Office Mobile App, and video conference calls. If they can do all that and also have lots of good and useful apps , I will get rid of iPhone. I think you can summarize that I am looking for a Windowa phone that can do everything the New iphone can do but also sync with Widows \Live \Calendar , Contacts and has Microsoft Office Mobile App.

  25. Copy Paste function is important because alot of times I read article or emails and want to select a sentence or paragrahp and paste into my email responce as reference. When a customer emails me request, I can copy part numbers and specs, paste into new email and send to my suppliers quickly. They get back to me, I copy parts of email \i want client to see, paste and respond to client…

  26. it basically does have copy/paste already….
    on top of smart-sensing that we know about already… you can also highlight text and throw it to a clipboard…where you can store more than one item unlike copy/paste.

    1. To select items, you simply press-&-hold like you would now, and a cursor appears for text content.
    2. Once you’ve finished selecting, long-press somewhere on the selected text.
    3. The content now lifts up & floats on a plane above that of the rest of the content, which fades/blurs out a bit. (Steps 1 & 2 are combined for images)
    4. Without lifting your finger, you should drag the content up to the edge opposite the app-bar of the screen (as indicated by a “aurora of white/black color emanating from that edge). It gets attracted to that edge as you get closer, like a magnet & snaps to the edge when you release your finger.
    5. For text, WP7 encloses it in a box colored the same as your theme, with images simply thumbnailed. Corners of these boxes/images peek out of the top edge, while content exists in the clipboard. If you take your finger close to that edge, the content responds by tilt-shifting back into the depth a bit.
    6. If you long-press near the top, the content slips out further. Here you can now drag one piece down to wherever you want to paste it and release it.

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