With the Windows 10 upgrades now rolling out, I thought it was finally time to see how the OS is going with the phone version due later in the year.
Signing up for the preview version is a simple case of signing up via the Insider app for the phone, after which the upgrade will begin coming down as the next phone update. Just remember this OS is still being developed so you’re going to find plenty of rough edges as you begin using it.
The process itself takes more than an hour. Once complete you find a slightly tweaked version of the tiled interface; fonts have been shrunk and tiles are a little larger with gaps between them reduced a fraction.
Diving into the UI further there are some substantial tweaks to the notifications and settings panels which were much needed and appear to have been greatly influenced by Android design sensibilities. Icons are used a lot more and text is reduced in size to avoid the overflows that happened with apps using the hub style designs of classic Metro/Modern apps.
The app centric model has been adopted by the OS now as a whole now and features that were previously integrated such as email are now split off as separate apps. The advantage is of course updates can now be pushed through for these parts at a faster rate but the negative is that the Outlook app now bears a strong resemblance to the iOS and Android versions which may disappoint those happy with the swipe happy controls of Windows Phone 8.1.
So, how does the OS feel now that Windows 10 is out for PCs? It’s definitely a work in progress here – there are some features now integrated that will make some apps redundant (such as the often downloaded flashlight variety) but there are others that are still in need of attention.
Outlook is right now is flaky and doesn’t always give you the right results which is frustrating, especially as email is such a key part of smartphones now. Bluetooth and Cortana are much the same so if you are like me and use it a lot in your car you’re going to be pretty frustrated with the number of drop outs and potential crashes. I’m singling these two out mainly because they’re the features of my Windows Phone that I rely on the most and seeing them again in a state similar to the Windows Phone 8 betas is disappointing.
However there’s some great additions that will be welcome to users such as the improved keyboard and its built in nub (like those on some notebooks) that makes moving the cursor around so much easier. Live tiles now have an added level of dynamism which brighten up the start screen further.
Some apps have been developed or enhanced for Windows 10 that show signs maturity that have been missing in the existing OS and can help reduce the app bloat for basic features; a good example is the new time app that includes alarms, world clock and stopwatch all bundled together.
At the moment I’m not completely won over with the evolution of the phone OS. Some of the changes to make it a more agile product (separate apps) have the unfortunate effect of making it feel a little more generic as a result. That Outlook and Cortana don’t feel at all solid compared to the earlier versions is disappointing and something I hope is resolved quickly once the updates begin pushing out again in the coming months before its eventual release.
After a week of tinkering I found I needed to roll back to Windows 8.1 – it was a little too unstable for my liking and features that I relied on regularly just weren’t of the same quality as in Windows Phone 8.1. Finding the wireless hotspot/connection sharing in a bad state was the last straw, so I restored the phone through the steps listed here.
I’m sure that as the OS develops further it’ll be fine but right now it’s best to leave it for those who want their phones working when they need them.