Microsoft says only one third-party application at a time

Windows Phone 7 will not multitask

Microsoft has revealed that the new mobile operating system will employ "tombstoning" similar to the pre-iOS 4 iPhone.

Microsoft Windows Phone development blogger Yochay Kiriaty posted details of a beta release for Windows Phone 7 for developers and unveiled a Windows Phone "training kit" also available for download on the blog. 

The blog post also described the mechanisms of the "Windows Phone Application Lifecycle" with particularly regard to the feature described as "tombstoning". Just like the pre-iOS 4 iPhones, Windows Phone 7 will apparently terminate third party applications if the user navigates away from them.

"Windows Phone allows only one application to run at any given time in the foreground, and no 3rd party applications are allowed to run in the background," said Kiriaty. "Therefore when a user navigates away from your application, either to a chooser like picture chooser, or to a launcher like phone call, Windows Phone operating system terminates your application," he added.

A true multitasking phone operating system allows for any number of applications to be loaded and support for this approach was one of the major new features in Apple iOS 4, with the company having previously come under criticism for the previous approach which Microsoft looks set to adopt themselves.

Concerns with multitasking on phones is that applications can gobble up resources, slowing down the phone and resulting in poor battery life. Such concerns proved on partially justified in reality with the Android operating system and Apple have since implemented such a feature.

There is, however, a difference between an application "running" in the background and one which is suspended, eg. not consuming processing resources. Most network applications will only periodically awaken to deal with incoming data while others will remain completely idle until coming to the foreground.

Microsoft have detailed a series of mechanisms through documentation of the Windows Phone 7 API which might address applications that simply wish to restore without fulling re-initialising. However it seems that any third-party applications which maintain a constant network connection are an unwanted property.

It’s likely such a move speaks more about the software giant’s strategy of ensuring that Windows Phone 7 users stick to the official applications as Microsoft continues to build out a cloud-based online computing network to rival Google’s. 

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