As each new build of next year's Redstone 2 Creators Update for Windows 10 Mobile hit over the last few months, the 'Slow' Insider ring had stuck determinedly to mirroring the Redstone Anniversary Update 'Release Preview' builds. I'd been saying that it was only a matter of time before the 'Slow' ring got switched up to the next major OS version and this has now happened (last night). Changing the update landscape for many of our enthusiast Windows 10 Mobile devices.
Recent News - Hardware
We reported a while ago that new firmware was heading to Lumia 950 and 950 XL units across the world, but such hardware-specific rollouts are often a lot slower than we would like. In this case around 19 days to reach UK SIM-free units. Below is the changelog and some observations, including imaging improvements and double-tap-to-wake.
Officially launched in Spain is a new Windows 10 Mobile phablet, the 'Funker W6.0 Pro 2' (rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?!) - it's meaty enough to be Continuum compatible, even if it's not quite up to the spec level of the Lumia 950 XL etc.
The Microsoft Band 2 was favourably reviewed by me last year, but I'd lost interest in wearing it every day because it didn't do enough for me - yet an update today may just have changed my mind and the gadget is charging up as I speak. You see, the new Explore tile - demoed superbly in the video example below - lets you wander over hill and down dale, tracking where you've been on the Band display itself, giving you detailed positioning and the facility to mark particular spots. For anyone who like walking, hiking, mountain biking etc. to keep fit, the Explore tile could be an eye opener.
Although Microsoft never gave an exact date for the start of the official Windows 10 Mobile upgrade for existing Windows Phone 8.1 users, it's fair to say that its hints were originally for late 2015 - which then slipped a little. However, at least Q1, 2016 was achieved, if only by a couple of weeks, with the arrival of Windows 10 (10586.164) for a whole clutch of devices, including the popular Lumia 640, 735, 830 and 930. There's an initial hurdle, presumably to make sure that only keener users get Windows 10, and then this will be replaced by the full 'pushed' update later.
Over at MWC 2016, HP has now revealed details of its upcoming ('summer') Continuum-capable, business-centric Windows 10 Mobile flagship. See below for PR photos and the stunning specifications. If anything, the HP Mobile Extender and Desk Dock 'accessories' are better thought out and more capable then Microsoft's first party offering, while the smartphone itself looks stunning.
As widely expected, ahead of MWC 2016, Microsoft has officially launched the Lumia 650, intended mainly for business use, and prioritising materials and appearance over blazing consumer internals. The result is an interesting specification sheet, but I think we have to trust Microsoft on this one - they did their research in terms of what businesses wanted for the Lumia 640 and 640 XL and now we're starting to see their replacements, a year on.
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.
The biggest news at today's Microsoft event in New York was, of course, the official announcement of two of the most leaked smartphones in recent times, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL flagships, designed to carry the flag for Windows 10 Mobile into 2016, with 'Hello' Iris recognition, Continuum support and upgraded specifications across the board, relative to the 18 month old Lumia 930.
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.