I’ve been keeping a close eye on Windows 10 Mobile, and I haven’t really liked what I’ve seen. The navigation is a clear lift from Android, and not in a good way, and paradigms like the Pivot control which made WP8.1 unique seem to have disappeared. But I’ve never been one for sticking my head in the sand and sticking to the current version of something because the new version looks scary and different so, rather than wait for WM10 to be released, I decided screw it, I’ll get what is essentially the RTM build on my Lumia 1020 by joining the Insider Preview programme. This was about a week ago, and these are my impressions after using WM10 on my daily driver for a week.
The upgrade itself went very smoothly. Took about an hour and everything was exactly where I left it when it came back, even down to the Start layout which wasn’t preserved when upgrading 8.1 to 10 on the desktop. Kudos for attention to detail though, as I had the old neutered Office app pinned to my start screen, the upgrade downloaded the new Excel, Word, and Powerpoint apps and put them in a tile group in the same spot where the old Office app was pinned. Not a massive feat of software engineering, but a nice touch.
Overall, the upgrade is much like going from Windows 8.1 to 10 on the desktop, generally a non-event with a few niggles that I’m confident will disappear over time.
It’s still screwy, although not as bad as I expected. The mail app for example, has the old ellipsis menu at the bottom of the page AND the new hamburger menu at the top of the page. This is just plain confusing and I hope that apps will settle on using one method of navigation over time, even if it is the hamburger. I’m yet to decide if the “hold down the Start button to bring the screen down so you can access controls at the top of the phone with one hand” feature is a nasty hack to get around the idiotic decision to follow Android and put all navigation at the top of the phone away from the user’s hand, or a clever trick to get around the idiotic decision to follow Android and put all navigation at the top of the phone away from the user’s hand.
My initial impression of performance was that it was generally comparable to Windows Phone 8.1 on the same device, slower in some areas but faster in others. After a few more days of working with it however, it is definitely slower overall. Loading the main apps I use, such as Mail, Twitter, and Readit, can take seconds. Once they’ve loaded, performance is about the same as on WP8.1, the only issue here is initial load time.
The settings app is immeasurably better. The old one was just a completely unorganised list of options, with no sane grouping and a number of really useless names that don’t help you figure out where to find the setting you want. The new one follows the same layout and groupings as Windows 10, so that’s one advantage to the OSes sharing a larger amount of functionality these days.
The tiles are larger than on Windows 8, however the “Use More Tiles” option makes them too small in my opinion. Guess you can’t please everyone!
The ability to reply to texts without unlocking your phone is really convenient, although I’m slightly concerned about the security issues with such a feature.
My overall impression is that this initial release is a little rough. Obvious, keep in mind that even though build 10586 is RTM, I’m still running the insider preview so there may be extra telemetry enabled and reduced optimisations that may be hampering the performance. Is it as smooth as WP8.1? No. However, I still prefer it to Android even in it’s current state, and given that Windows 10 has improved from it’s already pretty stable condition upon release, if Microsoft keep up the same pace with WM10 as they did with desktop post-release, then I’m confident the rough edges will be gone fairly soon.
Will WM10 make Windows Phone a mainstream consumer phone OS finally? Again, no, I highly doubt it. But there are a lot of benefits to the shared code, features, and manageability of Windows 10 and it’s various derivations, including WM10, that may look very tempting to businesses, especially as that space is being rapidly vacated by Blackberry, there is room for a new mainstream business phone, and WM10 may just have a chance there.