It’s no secret that Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone — in its current state — is struggling to make a substantial impact on the Android and iOS dominated mobile market. But that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from trying. And that’s a great thing. The company, at its special event yesterday, showcased a number of amazing products, and new features for its forthcoming operating, Windows 10.
In September last year, the company had announced that Windows 10 will work across devices – desktop computers, laptop, tablets, phones, gaming console Xbox, and IoTs, and at the event yesterday, it gave us the first look at how it plans to go about it. Meet Windows 10 on phones, the next iteration to the operating system for Windows Phone handsets. Here are some of its most interesting features.
The company realizes the controversial “app-gap” problem in Windows Phone, and it has a grand vision to tackle it: Allow certain desktop apps to run on mobile devices. And for that, it is using the universal apps card which it talked in great length last year. Universal apps essentially share code between phone and desktop, making it incredibly easy and fast for developers to port their apps from one platform to another. This also ensures easier maintenance for developers.
The company also announced that all core Windows applications are now universal apps. Any changes made to one on a device will sync with the app installed on other devices.
Office for Windows 10 on phones
One of the most exciting things announced yesterday was Office for Windows 10 on phones. What rubbish?! Isn’t it already available, you may ask. Not really. The Office in question is a full-fledged version of the productivity suite, with touch support. It has all the features you will find in its desktop counterpart.
The new suite will come with a new user interface, and also feature the ribbon that you are all familiar from Office’s desktop client. The company announced that Office will also have some changes in layout and a new “reflow mode” which will optimize documents for better viewing experience. The new Office will also come with support for wireless printing and Miracast.
You can easily work on PowerPoint presentations, edit Word documents and appreciate other rich functionality in Office, while you are on the go.
At the event, Microsoft also announced that the Skype app is becoming a core part of the Windows 10 on phones. The Skype conversations will now appear in the Messaging app with SMSs. The operating system will come with a new Phone and Messaging app, which will be a central hub for calls, SMSs and video chats.
In addition, Skype is also receiving actionable notifications, which will allow users to respond to a message from within the Toast notification.
Microsoft also announced its new web-browser at the event. Codenamed Project Spartan, the browser is meant for both desktop and mobile devices. It comes with a slew of features, including the support for Cortana, which delivers important updates from your emails, and other places right onto your web-browser. It also comes with annotation tools that allow you to scribble and draw on a webpages, and then quickly share them with your friends.
Other interesting features
- The Action Center is getting some improvements as well. Microsoft announced that the Action Center in the phone will work in conjunction with its counterpart in PC. A notification dismissed from one device will also disappear from the other.
- The Outlook app has received an interesting update. It now allows users to swipe on an email to quickly dismiss it or flag it as important.
- The Keyboard now comes with a virtual pointer for better calibration (see image below). It likely matches your accent color and makes it easier than ever to navigate on your screen.
“Windows 10 ushers in a new generation of more personal computing across the broadest range of devices, from big screens to small screens, to no screens at all. Introducing innovations such as a new version of Cortana, a better web experience, a new suite of in-box apps, Windows 10 will also feature a fast, fluid and familiar experience on phones and smalls tablets to seamlessly interact with your PC,” Microsoft stated in an official blog post.
Ok, Windows 10 sounds great — but will my current Windows Phone handset receive it? Yes, today’s Lumia phones will receive it, but not every phone has the capability to upgrade to it.
“We’re making it as easy as possible to get Windows 10. Windows 10 has been designed to run well on today’s Lumia phones. Like any upgrade to a new operating system, not every phone will upgrade or support all possible Windows 10 features, and certain features and experiences will require more advanced future hardware. Our goal is for the majority of the Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 to join the Windows ecosystem along with an expected hundreds of millions of PCs, tablets and other devices running the next generation of Windows.”
Microsoft will release the first preview of Windows 10 on phones in February.Further reading: Microsoft, Windows 10, Windows 10 on phones, Windows Phone