Microsoft had hinted that the mobile build of its new Windows 10 operating system would be available for preview in February. After releasing the desktop preview a few weeks ago, it's delivering on its promise to (some) mobile users.
The Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones is now available for select Windows Insiders to test on Windows Phones and provide feedback. Those who are willing to handle a few bugs can download the first preview build, but only a few phones are eligible. They include:
- Lumia 630
- Lumia 635
- Lumia 636
- Lumia 638
- Lumia 730
- Lumia 830
In a blog post detailing the announcement, Microsoft admits that this is the earliest public preview it has launched for Windows on smartphones and that this version is still rough around the edges. It will feel less complete than the desktop build of Windows 10, and users can expect to see bugs. Right now, it's not available on higher-end phones due to a partitioning issue in the upgrade process.
For those who cannot download the build or fear damaging their phones, here are a few of the features that are available in the preview released today:
- Interactive notifications: Take direct action while addressing notifications such as alarms or text messages, which users can reply to, in-line, with text or voice.
- Full-size background image for Start: Customize the start screen with a full-size background image.
- Better speech-to-text capability: In talking to virtually any data field, words show up as they are spoken and punctuation automatically appears. The feature can even differentiate between "two" and "too."
- More Quick Actions in Action Center: Windows Phone 8.1 has four programmable Quick Actions, but Windows 10 features an expanded view that can accommodate up to three rows.
- Improved Photos app: Upon first launch, Photos will display an aggregated collection of local and OneDrive photos.
For those planning to download the preview, there are a few larger problems to watch for. In this build, Cortana is limited to US-only and English-only. Existing alarms will not migrate to the new OS, and WiFi settings will not roam. Apps are not displayed in battery saver, and it may take a few attempts to attach photos to email, OneNote, and Facebook via the Photos app. The build will not sync to Microsoft Band, and trying to set a lock screen picture will fail periodically.
Testers feeling apprehensive should note that Microsoft wanted to ensure that anyone who tried this early build could get back to their old OS if something goes wrong. This is why the preview is only available on phones that have a recovery image available. If necessary, the new Windows Phone Recovery Tool will restore that image.
Microsoft also adds that future builds of the OS will include new features in the universal apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint running across phones, tablets, and PCs on Windows 10. Upcoming versions will also have new Mail and Calendar apps for Outlook and IP-based messaging from Skype and other services. Going forward, support for additional phones will be available for each new build.