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This was the week where mere mortals could get their first look at Windows 10 on a smartphone and I took advantage it. Using a loaner Lumia 830, I ran through the installation process, which requires a Windows Insider account; you can get one here, which also provides you access to Windows 10 for your PC.
The Windows 10 install took around 1.5 hours for me, although it appeared to repeat the first, lengthy step. Regardless, it worked without a hitch and all of my data and apps migrated successfully. This first version of the preview isn’t full of changes; rather, there are some different design elements, a few new features and plenty more coming, according to [company]Microsoft[/company].
In my walkthrough, I highlighted most of what I’ve seen so far, although I’m still nosing around. The new Settings section is vastly improved while Notifications are more granular and will eventually have additional actions available to them. The new voice input works with every text field I’ve tried and is quite accurate. There are new File Explorer and Photos apps, although the latter still has a few features not yet available; eventually, the app will organize images into Folders and Albums for you.
Overall, I like what I see as Microsoft matures its mobile operating system. It still needs to find more developer traction in my opinion, to become the platform of choice for new phone apps. But Microsoft may not be waiting for that. The company is making a concerted push for its own mobile apps on [company]Apple[/company] iOS and [company]Google[/company] Android. The strategy seems to be: If people aren’t going to use our phone hardware, let’s at least get them using our phone apps and services, regardless of who makes their handset.
To that end, there are reports that the Samsung Galaxy S6 will have Microsoft’s Office apps pre-installed, which could help quickly boost the number of users on those apps, even though the Lumia phone line isn’t part of the equation. I think it would be a smart move by Microsoft because it can’t tie its mobile success solely to Lumia hardware.
Speaking of hardware, there was quite the kerfuffle over data suggesting that 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches shipped in 2014. Most interpreted the number as a failure for Google’s smartwatch software and partner product line. I took a different view by putting the data into perspective: It’s far too early to dismiss Android Wear, particularly with just two to six months of shipment information, depending on the model.
If Android Wear watches were priced for impulse purchases — they range between $199 and $249 — or were standalone computing devices that didn’t require a paired smartphone, perhaps I’d feel differently. The fact is, these are companion devices that simply add convenience for getting at information that’s already available on the phone you carry. Aside from Google Now, there’s not yet a “killer feature” that will drive demand so that a large percentage of the one billion Android users will want an Android Wear smartwatch.