Microsoft has announced the first public release of a Windows 10 Technical Preview for smartphones, offering owners of its most recently-released Lumia handsets a chance to test the new operating system out ahead of launch.
Although Microsoft has made the desktop, laptop and tablet edition of the Windows 10 Technical Preview available for public download, it had previously held back on releasing its mobile incarnation. Demonstrations of the software during the company's press conference last month showed that working builds existed, however, and now the company is finally making those available to members of its free Windows Insiders programme.
Microsoft has previously stated that it will be making Windows Phone 10, which is somewhat confusingly expected to launch under the Windows 10 moniker, available to as many Windows 8.1 smartphones as possible including entry-level devices with as little as 512MB of RAM. For the Technical Preview, though, the company is limiting compatibility to a small sub-set of devices in what was once Nokia's Lumia line-up prior to its acquisition by Microsoft itself.
Those interested in trying the software out will require a Lumia 630, 635, 636, 638, 730, or 830 smartphone; those with previously-generation Lumia x20 devices or any other Lumia not listed are not able to participate in this release, although are still expected to receive Windows 10 when it launches later this year. Those with a compatible phone need simply sign up for the Windows Insider programme
, which is free, then indicate that they wish to receive the build which will then be pushed to their handset as an over-the-air update.
'Some context on why we chose these and not higher end phones like the 930/Icon or 1520,
' explained Aul in the company's announcement. 'We have a feature that will be coming soon called “partition stitching” which will allow us to adjust the OS partition dynamically to create room for the install process to be able to update the OS in-place. Until this comes in, we needed devices which were configured by mobile operators with sufficiently sized OS partitions to allow the in-place upgrade, and many of the bigger phones have very tight OS partitions.
The builds are of pre-release quality - described by Aul as 'the earliest publicly available preview we’ve ever done for Windows on phones
' - meaning bugs and crashes are to be expected. Anyone finding themselves regretting the upgrade can use the latest release of Microsoft's Windows Phone Recovery Tool to return the handset to Windows Phone 8.1. Those upgrading their daily handsets should also be aware of a a list of known issues, published as part of Aul's announcement
, which includes a warning that existing alarms will not be migrated after the upgrade and the virtual private networking (VPN) is currently disabled.