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Windows Phone 7 Repeats iPhone Flaw

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Once again, a basic smartphone necessity is purposely left out.

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When does a smartphone cease being smart? What basic functionality would have to be consciously omitted, preventing the device from joining the ranks of BlackBerry (RIMM), Palm (PALM), Android (GOOG), and iPhone (AAPL)? A camera? Wi-fi access? A media player?

How about a feature that came standard decades ago in the most primitive of computers? A command performed by anyone who's spent 10 minutes handling a mouse and keyboard. An absolute necessity -- so much so that Apple is still feeling the sting for leaving it out in iPhone's early stages.

Cut & Paste.

Yes, after unveiling the new Windows Phone 7 OS and changing everything we know and have come to expect in smartphone interfaces, Microsoft (MSFT) completely cut the legs out from under its project by purposely leaving out cut, copy, and paste capabilities. Or to be more accurate, Microsoft removed the feature -- since it was included in older versions of its older Windows Mobile OS for years.

In an interview with CNET, Windows Phone executive Todd Brix was unabashed in the company's decision. "We don't enable copy and paste and we do that very intentionally," Brix said. "It's actually an intentional design decision. We try to anticipate what the user wants so copy and paste isn't necessary."

Congratulations, Todd. In revamping your competitors' timeworn design choices for the past few years, your team successfully ignored the impassioned user base who, for two years, demanded that Apple implement the feature into the iPhone. Regarded as a tech gaffe no one dare repeat, removing Cut & Paste finally settles the debate that Microsoft is willing to copy Apple every step of the way -- for better and especially worse.

But let's give Brix the benefit of the doubt for a moment. If the function "isn't necessary," how will the Windows Phone team plan on users copying information from one section into another? Well, don't you worry. Brix has it covered.

Relating his knowledge and expertise of the human condition, Brix told CNET that users only cut, copy, and paste when they want to perform a specific action like "calling a phone number or emailing an address." For that, Brix and his team developed what they dubbed "smart linking," which removes the need for highlighting and copying. Rather, double-clicking on the number will evoke the phone or address book app. Same goes for the email address and mail program.

But for someone who's so adeptly trained in the behavior of smartphone users, how does Brix expect "smart linking" to work in Windows Phone 7's version of Microsoft Word and mobile Office suite? Is "smart linking" able to highlight important information from a work colleague's email and place it into another for the boss? And that unattributed quote you found on a blog, how can we search for it Google? "Smart linking," again?

It's bad enough that Windows Phone 7 removed a basic function that should be -- and basically is -- implemented into every smartphone, but the fact that we've already been through this makes it incomprehensible. And Brix's assertion that people won't even miss the function -- and claiming his team focused on what the majority of users really wanted -- implies that Microsoft is right back to botching its products and ignoring its customer base.

"Certainly there will be some people that won't be happy with some of those decisions," Brix added.

Looks like he's not so clueless after all.
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