Microsoft committed to bringing Windows 10 to existing handsets before the end of the year, but is now breaking that commitment. The company has, for reasons unknown, delayed the system update until some point in the next year.
Microsoft delivered the RTM build of Windows 10 in November.
The RTM coincided with the then-latest Technical Preview build 10586. Microsoft has allowed existing owners of Windows Phones to test the new platform through the Windows Insider program. The company pushed out new builds about once a month, each time stamping out bugs and adding in features. The Lumia 950 and 950 XL, the first Windows 10 smartphones, shipped with build 10586.
Since November Microsoft has released several updates to the Lumia 950 and 950 XL that coincide with updates given to Windows 10 tablets and PCs. Most recently, it seeded cumulative update 10586.29 and followed that quickly with 10586.36. The latter is the last update Microsoft will push this year. It further refines the performance of the 950 and 950 XL, but doesn't add any new features.
Until this week, Microsoft had been mum on Windows 10's arrival for older Lumia smartphones.
"The Windows 10 Mobile upgrade will begin rolling out early next year to select existing Windows 8 and 8.1 phones," said the company in a statement provided to ZDNet. It didn't provide an explanation for the delay, and we all know "early next year" can mean as late as March.
Worse than the delay itself, Microsoft hasn't defined which Lumia handsets will be able to install Windows 10. Microsoft has famously cut off old hardware from big updates in the past, and it would not be surprising to learn that only a handful of the most recent Windows Phones will be granted the new platform.
Microsoft has also been mum on what Windows 10 features will be available to older handsets. Windows 10 Mobile's chief benefit is universal apps. All versions of Windows 10 rely on the same core, and developers don't have to do much to adjust their apps to run properly in the PC, tablet, and phone environments. Microsoft expects this fact to help improve app selection for Windows 10 handsets -- something the devices have sorely lacked compared to competing platforms Android and iOS.
[Can Windows 10 drive PC sales and adoption? InformationWeek asks the question.]
Continuum, the most interesting feature of the 950 and 950 XL, is definitely not on the list for older phones. Continuum allows the 950 and 950 XL to act as full PCs when connected to a TV, keyboard, and mouse.
With any luck, Microsoft will be on the ball come the new year and provide more information.
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