Microsoft does like ending the week with a big release and, in this case, it's a new build of Windows 10 Mobile for the Insiders community. See below for the official release comments, though they're surprisingly brief for once. The focus in build 10166 (over the previous 10149, two weeks ago) is in fixing known issues, including those afflicting the 'Store (Beta)' application - which now loses its beta tag and should work fully.
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In an announcement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made yet another 'tough' round of job trimming at the software giant, resulting in almost 8,000 job losses (from around 100,000 total), many of them in the phone division (i.e. producing feature phones and Lumias). See below for the release text and comment.
Potentially confusingly arriving as Windows v10.0.12648.133, what's rolling out to Windows Insiders today is 'Build 10149', bringing its own swathe of improvements across the board. I declared that build 10136 was close to being useable day to day and build 10149 marks that point for real. As of today, I'm going to be living with Windows 10 Mobile 24 hours a day - I'll report back, of course. See below for the main improvements over build 10136.
Following the announcement that the desktop/tablet SKUs of Windows 10 are to be available officially on July 29th, Insiders Preview builds of Windows 10 Mobile will start coming with more urgency and solidity from this point onwards. There's been no timescale announced for the phone SKU as yet, but it can't be more than a couple of months behind, otherwise the raft of 'one platform, one store' marketing that's been accompanying the Windows 10 ramp-up won't make sense to the consumer. Anyway, there's another big new build (10136) available right now, if you've joined the programme and are happy to take on the usual risks.
Somewhat unexpectedly, given the whole 'One Windows' mantra surrounding the 'Windows 10' name, Microsoft has volunteered details of how the OS will be broken down from a distribution and classification standpoint, announcing no less than seven (count 'em) 'editions'. All a bit confusing, I'll quote from the Windows blog below, to help explain...
BUILD, Microsoft's developer conference, got underway yesterday evening in the USA, with a number of announcements that will be of interest to anyone with Windows on their smartphone. Much of it is looking into the future, of course, many months at the earliest, but it does give a good glimpse of where Microsoft is heading with Windows 10 on phones, tablets and desktops. See below for a summary.
Microsoft has announced the Lumia 540 Dual SIM, the latest entry to its portfolio of Windows Phone devices. The core specifications, a Snapdragon 200 SoC with 1GB RAM, are typical for an entry level smartphone, but the Lumia 540 Dual SIM is the first of Microsoft's 4xx and 5xx series products to include a 5" 720p resolution screen. Other notable specifications include the 5MP front facing camera, and 8MP autofocus rear facing camera, with a 2200 mAh battery.
WinHEC stands for the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) and is where Microsoft and invited companies and 'experts' come together to 'educate, facilitate the exchange of ideas and give people a venue to share best practices and discuss future opportunities'. This year it was held on the 18th-19th March and details of what was announced (mainly around Windows 10 for PCs, tablets and phones) and discussed have been trickling out online. A summary is, we thought, in order.
Microsoft today announced the latest entrant to its low end ("affordable") Lumia device portfolio. The Lumia 430 Dual SIM is the company's lowest cost Windows Phone device to date, with an announcement price of just $70 (equivalent to a UK high street PAYG price of around £40). Key specification include a 4inch WVGA (480p) screen, Snapdragon 200 processor (Dual-core 1.2Ghz), 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory and microSD card support, 2MP fixed focus main camera and VGA FFC, and a 1500 mAh battery.
At the Microsoft press event at MWC this morning, it announced the Lumia 640 and 640 XL, with 5" and 5.7" 720p screens respectively, though both are firmly in the mid-tier category. Even so, the specs are easily enough for a full Windows 10 experience, when it ships later this year. The Lumia 640 XL will be available this month, with pricing starting at €189, while the Lumia 640 will be available in April, with pricing starting at €139.