Microsoft today began sending out an update to Windows Phone 7 devices that prepares them for the first of two software updates that will add new features.

"This first update for Windows Phone is designed to improve the software update process itself," the company said on the Windows Phone blog. "So while it might not sound exciting, it's still important because it's paving the way for all future goodie-filled updates to your phone, such as copy and paste or improved Marketplace search."

The software update that will bring those new features is slated for arrival in early March, with a much larger update adding things like multitasking, and a much-improved browser arriving a few months later.

In order to update their phones, users need to plug them into a computer with the latest version of the Zune software (or the Mac Connector software if they're on a Mac) to get the update started.

Microsoft says it's rolling out the update message to phones in waves, so users who have not yet got the notification will see it sometime today.