Near field communication (NFC) is certainly one of the bigger technologies to come out in mobile phones in the last year, but its mainstream appeal won't become evident till 2012. Whether or not Windows Phone currently supports it though has not been well understood. While Microsoft (and Nokia) have made it clear that NFC is on their roadmap, we don't know if if and when that will happen.
Now in an interview with TechRadar, Will Coleman, developer evangelist and product manager at Microsoft UK, has stated that our current OS does have NFC on board but no OEM has added it to their hardware yet:
"As far as I'm aware, NFC is supported by [Windows Phone], but needs to be enabled by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). So, if any OEM wants to enable it, that can be done by all means. Think it's about just about timing, in the not too distant future there are some exciting things that will be coming through with NFC from Microsoft."
That is certainly interesting. We can of course speculate why no one has added NFC including lack of wide-spread support, Microsoft has yet to roll out any supporting services and cost-reduction in devices. Of course to our enthusiasts out there, no reason would be satisfactory.
Even Keith Varty, head of apps and partnerships for Nokia has chimed in on the matter:
"NFC isn't an if, it's a when, it will happen. Obviously there's no NFC on our launch devices, so it's difficult to comment too much on that, but the main divisions between secure and non-secure [NFC] mean there's bags of opportunity for the technology [on our phones] especially with so many operators launching services. We need to get a [Windows Phone] device into the marketplace with NFC capabilities, and when we do we can really start to showcase our services".
For some of us, the benefit of NFC is a bit weak right now without any official services to support--we don't have a Google Wallet and 'beaming' still looks like a ways off. But we think the next round for Nokia and other OEMs should finally see NFC being added and used to a significant degree.
Updated: There once again looks to be some confusion around this issue and we're now being told that NFC is not currently supported in Windows Phone 7.5 but of course that it is coming in 2012--obviously there is some nitty-gritty tech bits that are being glossed over, but Microsoft is taking the line that it is not currently on board in any form. Take that as you will. From Microsoft:
"While Near Field Communications is not currently supported on Windows Phone 7.5, it is coming. We expect NFC-enabled Windows Phone devices to ship within the next year."