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.
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.
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.
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.
At IFA 2014, as expected, Microsoft has launched the Lumia 730 and 735, with the former Dual SIM and nominally for Eastern and Asian markets, and the latter with LTE capability for Western markets. Highlights include a lower mid range starting price yet with 4.7" screen, wide angle 5MP front camera (for selfies) and 'Nokia' build quality.