It seems like ages since Microsoft announced the arrival of Windows 10 and all the changes the latest operating system will bring to PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Now the company’s January 21 press event, where it will discuss the future of mobile devices on Windows 10, is fast approaching.
We’ve piled together everything we know so far about Microsoft’s plans for mobile in this handy post. We’ll continue to report on updates here ahead of the January 21 event.
Updated on 01-20-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added a report that Microsoft will offer one app store with Windows 10, and may even allow access to Android apps.
Microsoft will unify app store and maybe add Android apps
Microsoft will reportedly merge its two app stores into one to make it easier to move between your phone to your tablet to your PC, and back again. The single app store is expected to launch with Windows 10, reports the Information. Additionally, Microsoft is said to be considering adding the ability to access Android apps for those with Windows-based smartphones and tablets.
Windows currently suffers from a lack of mobile apps, and is rarely on the top of developers’ to-do lists. Like BlackBerry before it, Microsoft may end up offering Android apps as an alternative for users. Of course, nothing’s set in stone yet, and it seems rather unlikely that Microsoft would announce such a move on the same day it finally shows off its brand-new Windows 10 OS.
Hybrid phone/laptop device to be teased at Microsoft’s event?
According to an article published by the Information, Microsoft will show more than just the future of Windows software during its January 21 event. It mentions the company plans to introduce a variety of new devices, and will show several off over the coming days, including an intriguing phone/laptop hybrid.
Windows 10 is designed to work on all types of Windows hardware, so a combo product like this sounds plausible. We’ve seen convertible devices combining tablets and keyboards before, but rarely a with a phone acting as a laptop screen, due to obvious screen size restrictions. The Asus Padfone X brings a phone, tablet, and keyboard dock together, so there’s a chance it’ll be something like this, should the report prove accurate.
Windows tablets and phones will get one, renamed OS
Previously, smartphones and tablets ran two different versions of the Windows OS, but those days will soon be over. Both Windows RT, the tablet OS, and Windows Phone, the smartphone OS, will merge into one with Windows 10. As such, users will have access to the full feature suite Windows 10 has to offer, regardless of what device they are using. If you can use an app on your phone, you can use that same app on your tablet. It’s an experience with which Android and iOS users are already familiar, but Windows lovers are sure to rejoice.
While it looked almost certain to be this way from the beginning, Microsoft’s new Lumia 532 smartphone was listed on its website as being “Windows 10 ready,” for a short time. The device currently runs Windows Phone 8.1, and this slip-up seemingly confirms the word Phone will be dropped from the new, official name.
Microsoft’s Phone Insider preview app is ready to go
Microsoft recently released the Phone Insider preview app on its app store, where users will be able to download pre-release OS updates to their phones, straight from Microsoft. At this point, only Microsoft employees with special access can test out Windows 10 on their Windows phones and tablets, but the company will soon open the software up to those who are signed up for Microsoft’s special Windows 10 Technical Preview.
Microsoft already issued a Preview for Developers app, so that those with a registered Windows Phone Dev Center account can access all the early builds and work on app updates ahead of time. The Phone Insider preview app is slightly more democratic, and precludes the final, official release.
In December, Microsoft said more than 1.5 million people were registered Windows Insiders, with access to Windows 10 software in advance. Microsoft is expected to open up the Phone Insider app to those users shortly after the January 21 event.
Universal apps will also make life easier for developers who want to make apps for Windows 10, which should in turn increase the number of apps in the store over all.
New Office apps are coming for mobile
Microsoft recently updated its Office app suite for iOS and Android devices, but it’s also promised to do the same for Windows-based mobile gadgets. The new, native apps will most likely offer full functionality for free, compatibility with Office 365 subscriptions for hard-core users, and the same crisp user interface we saw with the iOS and Android apps.
All Windows 8 Lumia phones will get the upgrade
Seeing as most Windows-based phones are Lumias, it stands to reason that the majority of Windows Phone users will get the update. HTC, Samsung, and other less high-profile Windows smartphone makers will also most likely offer Windows 10 to customers. Of course, the rollout schedule is dependent on your carrier, as well, so some may get the update earlier than others.
When will Windows 10 for mobile arrive?
The beta version of Windows 10 for mobile devices is expected to arrive in late January, shortly after Microsoft’s January 21 event. The final build could arrive this spring, and Windows phone users should get it sometime in the second half of 2015. While some reports hint at a delayed launch date for the fourth quarter of 2015, other say it may come in Q3 instead.
We expect to hear more at the January 21 event, and we’ll keep you posted here in this article, as new information becomes available.
Updated on 01-20-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added rumors of a phone/laptop hybrid device being shown at the event, plus more evidence the word “Phone” is being dropped.
Article first published on 01-13-2015
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