As advanced as Windows Phone 7.5 is in terms of its user interface and software, it has lagged behind other platforms in terms of SMS support as it only allows you to attach a single photo -- not video or audio -- to each of your messages. Fortunately, that's about to change with an upcoming update due later this Spring that will allow users to attach multiple photos, videos, or voice notes to a single SMS message.
Editor's Update: Microsoft informed us that, though it will work with carriers to roll this feature out, there's no guarantee that every carrier will implement the update. So, if you have a Windows Phone 7.5 device today, you may or not may not get this added functionality.
Today at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft's Greg Sullivan showed us Windows Phone 7.5's upcoming SMS improvement on a Nokia Lumia 610. He began by attaching two photos to a message, then showed how the menu allows you to also choose videos from your library, and to record a short voice comment that also sends along with the SMS message. In all, he attached two photos, one video, and an audio recording to a single text message.
Sullivan explained that improved SMS support is just the most visible improvement the update, which also includes a host of subtle performance and security enhancements. Perhaps the most important invisible feature of the new build will be its ability to support lower-end hardware like that found on the Lumia 610. After the update, new Windows Phone handsets will be able to support as little as 256MB of RAM and will also handle the lower-end Qualcomm 7X27A CPU, which is a bit slower than current processors.
With slightly lower end specs, Microsoft and its partners can target more value-conscious consumers in countries where subsidized phones are not the norm. Along with the build update, Microsoft is adding 28 additional countries where carriers will sell Windows Phone devices. To support those markets, Microsoft has to update its marketplace and also include support for WCDMA connectivity which is very popular in China. In many of these markets, users pay by the SMS message so they need multiple attachment support to avoid running up the bill.
While the operating system itself and its built-in apps run flawlessly on lower-end Windows Phones like the Lumia 610, their lower amount of RAM and processing power means that certain third party applications may not run. Fortunately, with the new update, Microsoft will flag apps that don't meet your phone's specifications in its market and prevent you from downloading them.
Sullivan told us that lower-end phones like the Lumia 610 will come with the new Windows Phone 7.5 build preloaded, but some current Windows Phone 7.5 users will receive an automatic update sometime shortly after the lower-end devices ship, provided that their carriers work with Microsoft to implement the update. No build number has been announced.