Paul Thurrott, author of Windows Phone Secrets and corresponding web site, has shared information that he has obtained about Microsoft’s plans to update Windows Phone 7 in 2011. We’ve known pretty much since launch that the first update to Windows Phone 7 will add copy, cut, and paste. Paul says this first update will be sent by Microsoft to carriers in January for a possible release date in February.

Now, this is where Microsoft’s update process gets disappointing. The carriers have to sign-off on the update before Microsoft will actually release it to be installed on phones connected to the carrier’s network. We don’t know what happens if the carriers just don’t get around to providing the sign-off, so there is no guarantee that the update will be made available for all phones from all carriers at the same time. Worse, we also know the carriers have the ability to stop updates for one release cycle only. I think that means that a carrier can prevent this first update to be released to phones on their network until Microsoft provides them with the next release.

We don’t know when a second, minor update will be released by Microsoft, but according to Paul, a major update to Windows Phone 7 will add Internet Explorer 9, HTML5, Silverlight, and gesture support, and the version number of Windows Phone may be bumped up to Version 7.5. No time frames for when this update, code named “Mango,” will be released are available.