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.
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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.
Today at MWC, Acer joined the modern (8.1) Windows Phone fray, with the 4"-screened Liquid M220, a strictly budget model expected to retail at 79 Euros. Acer says "It is the right moment for Acer to join the Windows Phone eco-system with its growing popularity and consistency across phone and PC devices.” Quotes and some details below.
Last covered here back in December 2014, Microsoft's integral OneDrive client has been updated again, with v4.7 available right now and offering advanced text finding, even within photos (thanks to server-side OCR), multiple account support, PIN protection and cross-folder photo albums, and more. In addition, Microsoft has announced a new public API for OneDrive, enabling developers on all platforms to start using the cloud service from within their applications. See below for more.
If you're feeling lucky(!) and brave(!!) and want to play with the next version of Windows on your smartphone then note that Lumia 630, 635, 636, 638, 730, and Lumia 830 owners can install the Windows Insider application and be served up what's definitely an early beta of Windows 10 for Mobile. It's not recommended for use on your primary device, of course.
At the showcase event in Redmond in the USA, Joe Belfiore has briefly demonstrated 'Windows 10' on phones, using a Lumia 1520, with updates to the Start screen, application list, settings, messaging experience, user input, and more. The key point, echoing the shared technical core announcement of Windows Phone 8, was the commonality of Windows across all devices. In this instance, the emphasis is on the consumer experience, exemplified by the arrival of numerous "Universal" applications that work across PC, tablet and smartphone (Office, Outlook, Calendar, People, Photos, Music, and Xbox, among others).
In the middle of the (UK) night, Microsoft quietly launched its first Microsoft-branded Windows Phone, the Lumia 535, firmly hitting the low end 'affordable' sweet spot with a 5"-screened device that contains nothing surprising to AAWP readers but which should surprise plenty of newcomers to Windows Phone in the shops.