Windows Mobile 10 nears point of no return

New build, new bugs

A fresh version of Windows Mobile 10 has wobbled off Redmond's servers, and landed on devices enrolled in the Windows Insider programme.

There are no major surprises in Build 10549, which is an incremental update. It remains a mishmash of UI styles and experiments, and rebuilt apps that fall far short of the functionality of their predecessors. But perhaps the most interesting practical change is the closer integration of Skype into the Messaging client.

Microsoft spent $8.5bn acquiring Skype more than four years ago, just months after it launched Windows Phone Series 7, only to see its Lync enterprise voice become an unexpected hit. Cue meetings, and more meetings, at Redmond.

It’s been a trying time for Skype users who were also early adopters of the rebooted mobile platform, with iOS and Android getting smarter and more timely updates than Windows loyalists. The integration of Skype into WM10 is long overdue. You could argue that the “app economy” halted an integration process that was already well under way in the pre-iPhone world.

Other mods in the the new build include Camera and Store improvements, although the latter is still slow, and bug fixes. Users have noticed that the screen resolution can be scaled up, which enables desktop-style features to appear in apps like the Store and the Edge browser.

The Windows Insider programme, which allows anyone with a compatible Windows device to receive raw previews of the work-in-progress, has been criticised in various quarters including here at El Reg.

I thought Microsoft was creating more problems for itself because the self-selecting sample of Insider was not representative, and oblivious to many users’ preoccupations, resulting in a “shy Tory” effect. While one fan blog urged Microsoft to kill the scheme because it didn’t want to see the sausage being made.

WinBeta also voiced other valid criticisms, as constantly retesting features that then broke again. Fans have certainly been testy of late.

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