With the launch of Mi­crosoft’s up­com­ing op­er­at­ing sys­tem, we’ll soon be wav­ing good­bye to Win­dows Phone. But how do the two com­pare? In our preview, Chris Martin ex­plains ev­ery­thing you need to know


IIn­stead of mov­ing to Win­dows Phone 10 – which would be the most log­i­cal choice as far as Mi­crosoft’s strange num­ber­ing choices go – the next ver­sion of the mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem will be called Win­dows 10 Mo­bile. As far as we know, that is. Here, we’ll look at ev­ery as­pect of Win­dows 10 Mo­bile, in­clud­ing its new fea­tures, apps and user in­ter­face.

Be­fore we dive in, it’s im­por­tant to note that no-one will be get­ting the up­date on 29 July when Win­dows 10 launches. Mi­crosoft is still very much in the de­vel­op­ment phase and has only said that it needs “more time to de­liver the op­ti­mal ex­pe­ri­ence for mo­bile de­vices and you can ex­pect Win­dows 10 Mo­bile to re­lease broadly later this year”.

It’s also cru­cial to point out that not a great deal is chang­ing in terms of the in­ter­face. Win­dows 10 Mo­bile will look and work much the same as Win­dows Phone 8. There are lots of tweaks and im­prove­ments, but the big­gest dif­fer­ences will be much tighter in­te­gra­tion with Win­dows 10 on your PC. Part of that is Win­dows apps – pre­vi­ously called uni­ver­sal apps – which will be avail­able in the new uni­fied Win­dows Store and will work on all your de­vices run­ning Win­dows 10. You can read more about uni­ver­sal Win­dows apps on page 76.

When you first use the OS, you’ll find that it in­tro­duces a num­ber of new op­tions com­pared to Win­dows Phone 8.1. These in­clude full-size art for the Start screen, an im­proved Ac­tion Cen­ter, in­ter­ac­tive no­ti­fi­ca­tions, bet­ter dic­ta­tion (and a gen­er­ally bet­ter Cor­tana) and an en­hanced Photos app. The op­er­at­ing sys­tem will be a free up­grade for many Lu­mia smart­phones – see page 64 for de­tails of those in­cluded in the preview ver­sions. Smart­phones run­ning Win­dows 10 out of the box will ar­rive later this year, and will in­clude the Lu­mia 640 and 640 XL.

We’ve been run­ning the preview of Win­dows 10 Mo­bile since Fe­bru­ary, on a Lu­mia 830, along­side a lap­top and Sur­face Pro 3 run­ning Win­dows 10. Some things are bound to change in the in­ter­face, but here’s how it stands at the mo­ment.

What hap­pened to Win­dows Phone?

Win­dows 10 is the first ver­sion of Win­dows built to run on com­put­ers, tablets and phones (as well as servers and other de­vices you prob­a­bly don’t care about). This means that de­vel­op­ers will be able to build an app which will run on ev­ery­thing from a huge TV or pro­jec­tor screen, down to the 4in dis­play on a phone. They can sub­mit the app once to the Win­dows Store and Mi­crosoft will do the crunch­ing to make it work on any de­vice run­ning Win­dows 10. De­vel­op­ers will have to de­cide how the in­ter­face should look on a given screen size, but this change should mean that we’ll see more apps than ever avail­able on phones run­ning Win­dows.

How­ever, just be­cause it’s the same op­er­at­ing sys­tem as used by lap­tops and desk­tops, it doesn’t mean you can run x86 pro­grams (old Win­dows soft­ware) on your phone. You can’t.

App up­dates

Out­look is one of the first ‘uni­ver­sal apps’, mean­ing it will run across your PC, lap­top, phone and tablet, with the same ex­pe­ri­ence – although with a dif­fer­ent in­ter­face for the smaller screen of a phone. It will syn­chro­nise ev­ery­thing seam­lessly. As long as you’re con­nected to the in­ter­net in one way or another all the in­for­ma­tion will be up­dated in­stantly. You could, for ex­am­ple, start re­ply­ing to an email on your lap­top, then fin­ish it on your phone while you’re on the go. In gen­eral this is the same for any uni­ver­sal app.

There’s full Gmail sup­port, as well as other web­mail ser­vices in­clud­ing iCloud. In fact, there’s much bet­ter sup­port for all web­mail ser­vices, so you don’t have to be an Out­look user with an Out­look ad­dress to ben­e­fit from the stock email app. Cal­en­dar will be a uni­ver­sal app and it will be in­te­grated into Out­look, too. As you’d ex­pect, the app will syn­chro­nise across all your Win­dows 10 de­vices. This means it doesn’t mat­ter which one you en­ter an event on, it will show up ev­ery­where.

One view in the Cal­en­dar app will give you an over­view of the week, in­di­cat­ing how busy each day is, with de­tails of spe­cific en­tries be­low in chrono­log­i­cal or­der. The up­dated Photos app will also work across all your de­vices, and has been im­proved with bet­ter edit­ing and man­age­ment tools. This makes it eas­ier to find the im­age you’re look­ing for and give it a few tweaks be­fore shar­ing it. The app au­to­mat­i­cally en­hances photos and re­moves du­pli­cates, too.

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