Exclusive: How to copy, paste in Windows Phone 7

CNET's Ina Fried got the first look at how the features will work when they come to devices in early 2011.

NEW YORK--Just after Steve Ballmer finished up on stage, I cornered some of the development team members and got a look at the copy and paste features that Microsoft said will come early next year to Windows Phone 7.

The current version of Windows Phone 7 lets you move the cursor, but not highlight any segment of text. So I imagined that the copy and paste feature would build on the cursor. Instead, it starts out taking advantage of the fact that, while not visible, the operating system does recognize individual words, something needed for the spell checker and text correction feature.

Copy and paste will work by letting users click on a particular word and then expand or contract their text selection from there. A separate paste icon will appear allowing users to paste text, though the look is not yet final.

It seemed to work well, if not quite as elegantly as what Apple has done on the iPhone. The good news is that it is indeed coming sooner rather than later. Although Microsoft is pitching its phones as the devices for the common user, copy and paste is important because it is one of those "check box" features that users look for, even if they never make use of it.

Originally, copy and paste was not particularly high on the company's feature list, but early testers apparently squawked loud enough. Until now, Microsoft had been touting as an alternative its "smart links" that automatically highlight things like an address or Web site and let users share or go to that place.

Speaking of squawking--the Angry Birds were indeed AWOL from Monday's launch, though Microsoft did announce a bunch of games coming from Electronic Arts, which until now had been silent on its Windows Phone 7 plans.

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