Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones is a small taste of a big upgrade [Hands-on]

Windows 10

Windows Technical Preview for Phones is here, though only for a small number of users. Initially limited to the Lumia 630, 635 and Lumia 830 (among some others not sold in Canada), the update takes place after signing up for the Windows Insider program and downloading the accompanying app on a Windows Phone 8 device.

Microsoft isn’t giving a lot away here from the final product — most of the bigger changes are yet to come — but we do have a taste of Microsoft’s intentions for its next mobile operating system.

Things like actionable notifications and a more flexible Action Center have already been integrated, and an early version of the customizable Photos app is on board. So too is the dedicated Podcasts app, which is as barebones as they come.

I tested Windows 10 on a Lumia 830, and performance has clearly not been optimized for the Snapdragon 400-powered SoC: things ran quite choppily, as is to be expected from early software. The version of Internet Explorer rendered web pages with several errors not seen on Windows Phone 8.1, and many third-party apps threw errors, likely due to changed or deprecated APIs. This is par for the course with any OS beta — both iOS 8 and Android L betas experienced the same thing — so don’t be alarmed.

The Search and Settings screens have been overhauled, too, though they look more like half-stitched quilts than full blankets at this point. There’s a lot more work to do everywhere.

Still, if Microsoft can get enough developers on board to create universal desktop/tablet/phone apps, much like it did with Dropbox and the upcoming Office and Outlook apps (which aren’t included with this release), there’s s lot to look forward to in Windows 10 for phones.

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