The push from Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile is about to become more urgent for many people, especially if they're heavy users of HERE Maps and HERE Drive+. The developer, (the ex-Nokia) HERE has announced that further development and non-critical updates of code and data will be stopped as of the end of this month (March 2016). I.e. things will carry on working, but don't expect anything to be improved. Meanwhile, all the HERE data is licensed, available, and updated, in Windows 10 Maps.
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In the imminent absence of MixRadio from the Windows world, commercial music (and podcast) streaming service Deezer is stepping up to the mark, with a new, universal application that spans Windows 10 mobile, tablet and laptop/desktop. It builds on the existing Deezer app but offers a unified and 'seamless experience'. And, for MixRadio fans, the 'Flow' feature recommends instant music fixes.
The expected 'Release To Manufacturing' build of Windows 10 Mobile (i.e. being flashed into the first batches of Lumia 550, 950 and 950 XL), build 10586.11 is now available to all the brave souls (like us) on the Microsoft Insiders Programme. Details and a few suggestions below.
As part of its October 6th event in New York today, Microsoft announced the Lumia 550, its budget offering running Windows 10 Mobile. The device complements the high end Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, also announced.
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.
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.