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Windows 10 Mobile Build 10512 rolls out, but progress is sloooow

Plenty still to do before Windows 10 is ready for smartphones

Microsoft has released build 10512 of Windows 10 Mobile as part of its Insider Preview programme. This is the first preview build since 10166 in early July.

According to the official announcement, there are several small improvements, such as the ability to set the lock screen and background image from within the photos app, and “general improvement in overall stability and performance”.

There is also a list of known issues. Mobile hotspot is broken, and two-factor authentication for a Microsoft account using a phone number does not work.

I upgraded from build 10166 on a Lumia 830, and although the phone is usable it seems that little progress has been made. Performance is similar and annoyances include pinch and zoom not working in maps – a significant fault since this is a frequently used app.

Groove Music gave me an error – “Can’t play. To continue, sign in” – when I was already signed in. A few attempts later and it started working. This is the kind of thing that infuriates users.

I tried connecting a keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth, with the thought of writing this review in Word Mobile. The devices connected successfully, but it was not usable; I got erratic keyboard behaviour with keys repeating unpredictably. Other than that I could type successfully, until Word Mobile decided I was using a premium feature and needed an Office 365 licence – which is incorrect on a device of this size.

Everything is still in preview so bugs are to be expected, but progress is disappointingly slow. “The team was very focused on our Windows 10 release for PCs and tablets,” said Microsoft VP Gabe Aul.

There is still a ton of potential here. The way app navigation works is excellent, with the home page essentially a full-screen Start menu and an “all apps” list available by swiping from the right. Bugs aside, new apps like Office Mobile show the potential of Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform.

Now, though, we are in the aftermath of Microsoft’s decision to pull back from its Windows Phone investment. In July, CEO Satya Nadella announced a reduction of 7,800 employees primarily from “the phone business”. Some forthcoming Lumia models are rumoured to have been dropped, and ex-Nokia CEO Steven Elop has left the company. There will be new Lumias, presumably in conjunction with the finished release of Windows 10 Mobile, but without Nokia’s energy in developing phones optimised for Windows and its relationships with operators you can expect Microsoft’s small market share in smartphones to decline further.

The company seems to be repositioning Windows 10 Mobile as a kind of ultra-portable PC, with the Continuum feature announced at the Build event in April, which adds the ability to work like a PC when connected to keyboard, mouse and an external display.

In the meantime, this new build is a minor upgrade, and shows that plenty still needs to be done before the OS is release ready. ®

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