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.
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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.
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.
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).
Nokia has released its Q1 2014 results, reporting an operating profit of €242 million for its continuing operations (up from a loss of €30 million a year ago), with net sales of €2.644 billion (down 15% year-on-year). However, the scale of the task ahead for Microsoft is shown in the operating loss of €326 million for Nokia's discontinued operations (i.e. the Devices & Services division), down from a loss of €120 million a year ago, on sales of €1.929 billion.
Microsoft today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Nokia Devices and Services division, following approval by shareholders and governmental regulators and almost eight months on from the initial announcement. Microsoft is now a major mobile hardware manufacturer and will now begin the complex process of integration. Nokia continues to exist, primarily as a network infrastructure (NSN) business, coupled with the strategically important maps (HERE) and research and intellectual property (Advanced Technologies) businesses.
Today, at MWC, Nokia announced the Nokia X range of affordable smartphones, running on a customised version of AOSP (Android Open Source Project) software. The devices, the Nokia X, X+, and XL, are aimed primarily at "growth economies" and are compatible with generic Android apps, but also run a range of Nokia and Microsoft apps and services.
At the National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention and Expo, Microsoft is showcasing a range of technologies aimed at helping retailers create digital platforms for their businesses (e.g. fulfillment systems, management of data flow and consumer insights, and more). On public show for the first time is the next generation of line-of-business geared mobile devices powered by Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, which is based on the Windows Phone 8 platform.
The latest set of Kantar Worldpanel data, released yesterday, shows that Windows Phone is continuing to grow its market share in Western Europe, surpassing 10% market share for the first time in the EU5 (Germany, UK, France, Italy, and Spain). In the US market share has recovered to just under 5%, after falling to 3% earlier this summer, but still remains significantly behind the leading European markets.