back to article We tested the latest pre-flight build of Windows 10 Mobile. It's buggy but promising

Microsoft admitted defeat in the phone wars last summer, but a mobile cut still remains strategic to the company – albeit more for tablets and "detachables" rather than phones, where full-fat Windows 10 is too bulky. You've heard the euphemism "collateral damage." Windows phone owners today are "collateral users" – they just …

  1. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    I assume...

    I assume you didn't look for an iPlayer app? :D

    1. jerkyflexoff

      Re: I assume...

      There is an iPlayer app, but how often do you use the I player app

      1. jaywin

        Re: I assume...

        >but how often do you use the I player app

        Every time I want to check what time / channel something is on BBC TV, because their mobile website blocks IE mobile and just displays a full screen advert extolling the virtues of the iPlayer app instead.

        It's a brilliant example of terrible UX only there because marketing.

  2. Thought About IT

    Some 8.1 Apps have started misbehaving

    I don't know if it's because of underlying changes due to Windows 10, but the very good Barclays online banking app no longer allows money transfers between accounts and the Guardian app won't even start. I hope this isn't the start of an upgrade push, because everything I read about Windows 10 on the phone makes me want to stick with 8.1.

    1. ZSn

      Re: Some 8.1 Apps have started misbehaving

      I'm not being sarcastic but why would you want to use these apps? Genuine question - what do these provide that using their website doesn't? Are they more secure in some way? Apps usually have atrocious to nonexistent security. A banking app is probably better but is it good enough? Does Barclay have an associated card reader like all the continental banks do?

    2. aelking

      Re: Some 8.1 Apps have started misbehaving

      I just wanted to let you know that I have the barclays app, which is very good, and it allows transfers and payments for me.

      An i'm running windows 10 on my 950, and my advice is to wait for the next major update, whilst the current releases are better alot of the issues are solved in the next set of updates, currently in the insider rings.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Banking Apps

        When I had a Windows phone, I was a tad cheesed over the absence of a Nationwide banking app. As soon as I switched to Android, it was one of the first Apps I looked to install.

        Until I read the reviews. Lucky escape.

        Since then I have noticed/discovered that a lot of the Apps I was "missing out on" under WP are actually shite, and I wasn't missing anything. The old canard of quality/quantity was never so true.

        Didn't Stob once suggest as much, pointing out that most iOS apps were fart ones ?

        1. RyokuMas Silver badge

          Re: Banking Apps

          To be fair, most apps on any platform are fart apps...

  3. GregC

    Wow. I hadn't realised WP10 had shipped in such a bad state - haven't been following it really. Even by MS standards that's a bit of a shocker...

    1. hplasm

      Even by MS standards that's a bit of a shocker...

      Indeed. Reading about reboot, reset, restart to get things to communicate with it sounds just like win95/98 jiggery-pokery all over again. Have things still not improved in Redmond?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      I didn't realise it was released in such a bad state either - and I got my 950 on release day... I certainly haven't had any problems with it chugging through the battery and it has been stable - no crashes, although I've had to restart the phone a couple of times since November, because FitBit was complaining that it couldn't communicate with my Charge HR - although I've now discovered that deleting and reinstalling the app seems to have the same affect as rebooting the phone.

      The .164 upgrade yesterday is the monthly update, same release number as WIndows 10 on the desktop and it went out to users of the final code (650, 950, 950XL) and those on the slow and fast ring - it is allegedly the same as .122, but with a few bug fixes.

      Mine updated this morning (my 950 isn't on the development rings, my 1020 is). Afterwards both Cortana and Hello were still activated. Not sure what happened to the author's phone.

      Generally I find it better than WIndows 8.1, although the hamburger menu isn't as easy to use as the old ... menu at the bottom of the screen.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      This is one of two things.

      a) We are looking into the sausage factory and seeing how the sausage is made and it isn't very nice. One day the sausage will be delivered and everything will be fine.


      b) Windows 10 Mobile users will be subjected to Agile hell for the duration of ownership of the device, nothing ever really completed and as soon as a new app is thought up then effort will go into that instead of finishing off everything else.

      Cloudy stuff is generally b) and they've said that cloud is first, so they're adopting a methodology suitable for cloud products.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      It's "Vista" standard

      It looks another Longhorn (Vista): a too ambitious project, which can't deliver on time what planned, and will lead to a bloated and buggy release, with an annoying UI. Someone at MS never learns, even if promoted to the CEO role.

  4. takingthemick

    "Cortana unfortunately adds next to nothing to the Windows experience"

    I've made sure my 930 running W8.1 is not set for automatic update, I've seen lots of W10 new handsets randomly rebooting lots, 930 with W8.1 is really reliable.

    I would really miss Cortana in the car, reading and writing my texts, making my calls, changing satnav destinations all by voice commands.

    1. Flippy

      Re: "Cortana unfortunately adds next to nothing to the Windows experience"

      I upgraded my N930 to Win10 mobile just because Stagecoach upgraded their website and I couldn't see the real-time bus arrivals (they also pulled their feed from the external providers at the same time).

      Battery life - shockingly bad. It had been good on WP8.1. I've had to find my external battery pack again - last used on my N920.

      Phone app - repeatedly press 'answer call' button for nothing to happen. Finally call is answered just as you're clicking again but now on the hang up button.

      Edge browser - Always leaving tabs open; typing a favourite in the address bar occasionally leads to a search list but not the page being displayed until you try to close the tab when it suddenly appears.

      Mail client (Outlook) - View email, click delete and go back to the inbox where it shows "message deleted" in red at the bottom of the screen except the message stays in the inbox for another minute or more.

      Predictive text - 9 out of 10 times it just ain't working (in any app).

      Website shortcuts pinned to the start screen -- Don't show the preview icon anymore (but oddly on my N920 also upgraded to Win10 and restored with the same backup, do).

      Cortana - Can now work out my daily commute but doesn't/can't tell me if there are disruptions en-route.


      50/50 on whether to roll back to WP8.1 or not.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: "Cortana unfortunately adds next to nothing to the Windows experience"

      Yes, this is the killer for me.

      Cortana may be a big pile of dung, but the one glowing accolade is that tapping the Cortana voice button gives me instant access to the car's hands free calling and SMS.

      Whereas the wife's ithingy is much harder to use.

    3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: "Cortana unfortunately adds next to nothing to the Windows experience"

      Fair point.

      But then you probably drive a modern car that starts with one of those automatic "ignition" things. With mine, you put your feet through the floor and run really fast.

  5. Jess

    The issue with Windows Phone 7 & 8 never was UI or performance as I understand it, but the incompatibility with Windows Mobile apps coupled with the lock in to the store. (additionally there is the issue of alienating the Symbian user base by the way they 'bribed' Nokia to ditch it). Effectively WP is more a feature phone than a smart phone (but with smatphone battery life). I have never heard anyone moan about them being hard to use, just battery life or apps (depending on the user).

    Attempting to use the same UI on a desktop was the issue. Now they have reversed the problem.

    I have tried Windows 10 on a tablet. Utter crap. (I like it on a desktop). Reminds me of Windows CE

    They don't learn.

    I bet if there were a significant market for the things someone would create a Modern Shell for Windows 10 on tablets and phones.

    1. jaywin

      > The issue with Windows Phone 7 & 8 never was UI or performance as I understand it, but the incompatibility with Windows Mobile apps coupled with the lock in to the store.

      The main issue, as MS seem to see it, is that it's not got the same UX as Android. So instead of iterating what was a great UX, with unique features (e.g. unified messenger hub for sms / email / facebook / twitter), good performance on "lesser" hardware and at a reasonable price, they've opted to bloat out the platform, try and rip off the obvious bits of the Android UX, force people to make worse UI's for their apps, and remove the features that the existing users liked.

      I just wish they'd stop this whack-a-mole style development path, with new ideas coming and going quicker than they can actually get them to work, and instead focus on making an OS that is different enough from the opposition to make it worthwhile, and that people actually want to use (i.e. like they had with WP7 - just updated).

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Right. They're acting like teenagers, and fretted out at every gizmo site review that said they were not like the school little queen. Even worse, they are trying to put pieces of an UI onto another one. Both the "sandwich" and "three dots" menus? Why? A truly confusing decision, which shows really no one is at the helm and decides what direction to go - instead winds shake and turn the boat in different directions.

        Only, WP7 was based on the old CE code, AFAIK - it was better it went away.

  6. garethf

    Windows Hello works near perfectly on my 950

    When I first got my 950, it was VERY hit and miss whether it'll login using Hello. In the last month, it's now near 100%, just once in the last month it's not auth'd me first time. Even the speed has vastly improved, was around 5 solid seconds, now it's around a second.

    I can even unlock it with one eye open at 3am! Yes, I tried it.

    As for battery; again it's perfect, as reported lasts well into the next day, even with Twitter/Facebook on with notifications, and ActiveSync email for both my work O365 & my personal And I'm a talker on the phone. Only my old Blackberry gave this battery performance.

    Granted W10M still isn't quite there, but the .164 update finally fixed the Word Flow issue in Edge, that was one annoying bug!

    As for Cortana, I think Microsoft focused the Cortana team too much on the desktop, as Cortana on Mobile is a getting a little stale now. Hopefully the Cortana team will re-focus back to Mobile, or enlarge the team...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I also assume...

    Windows 10 for my 640XL will be ready for the end of next year?

    1. Arctic fox

      Re: I also assume...

      I am running the current Insider Build on a 640XL (my daily driver) and a 640 (my backup). I am not currently experiencing any problems although others on various threads with the same phones have a different story to tell. My impression is that the roll out is due to begin in Europe, at any rate, in the coming weeks.

  8. Ben Bonsall

    Still using a lumia 800. Still happy. Battery still just about gets through the day. (It used to do 3 days. If i forget to plug in overnight, then a top up in the car is enough to get me to the end of the work day at least.)

  9. GitMeMyShootinIrons
    Thumb Down

    Depressed at the state of the market...

    I have a Nokia Lumia 1020 on 8.1 - and a fantastic phone it is. WinPho 8.1 is a great OS with the apps and features I need - Cortana works well, the 41MP camera is great, even if the CPU has barely enough grunt to drive it. But its getting older and I'm probably going to want a replacement. But what to do?

    Apple - I had an iPhone 3G and a 4 (plus I have a 4S from work). Would I buy one now? Good gracious they're massively expensive for what they are. Their hardware is nothing special (My 3 year old Lumia has a better camera for one) and iOS isn't nearly as slick as it used to be. Not to mention, they have a real habit of stitching up customers with older devices.

    Android - I've tried it, and tried to like it. Trouble is, for all its flexibility it's too fiddly and inconsistent. Not to mention, there's always rumblings about lack of vendor support and security issues. Let's also remember that Android is a product of Google - the true, world-dominating data-monger.

    Windows 10 Mobile - MS don't know what to do. It needs backing or killing off, not this limbo situation. Again, great hardware at good prices - but the declining support and poor quality release code, caused as much by indifference by MS as much as it is the market, will be its undoing. A 950 or the rumoured 1050 or Surface Phone might be nice, but is it worth investing in a device on a platform that might disappear?

    While the hardware is moving forward nicely, at the OS, it's stagnated into too narrow a band - essentially a duopoly of Droid or iOS - MS had a chance, but being late to the game and mismanaging it after that has left its future hanging on the precipice. Not a particularly attractive choice in any case.

    1. legless82

      Re: Depressed at the state of the market...

      It was thinking along these lines that made me plump for a Blackberry Passport.

      Leap of faith maybe, and an evidently dying platform (not least down to the fact that 'analysts' have been claiming since 2011 that BlackBerry wouldn't last the next 12 months and you'd be unwise to back it), but sadly it's probably the best mobile OS I've ever used.

      I say sadly, because the likelihood of me being able to replace it with another once my Passport eventually shuffles off its mortal coil is close to zero.

    2. Can't think of anything witty...

      Re: Depressed at the state of the market...

      Absolutely agree...

      i like my current Windows Phone (830 on 8.1) but i'm feeling really nervous aobut going to 10 as it has had a lot of mixed reviews...

      and yet.

      i still don't want to go for either an android or iPhone, broadly for the reasons that you outline (i'm sure that you have seen the news item today about how the most popular version of Android is now 16 months old, despite newer versions being available...).

      Feeling a bit stuck at this point, i guess i'll have to sit it out with the 830 until they finally sort WP10...

    3. Richard Plinston

      Re: Depressed at the state of the market...

      > MS had a chance, but being late to the game

      MS has had smartphones since 2000 or so and had 42% of the US market before there was iOS or Android. There is a reason for the 8 in WP8, but perhaps you never noticed the 1 to 6.5.

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        @ Richard Plinston

        Actually, I had an Orange SPV back in the day. I omitted them on purpose, which, perhaps I should have clarified. These were stylus driven PDA operating systems with phone functionality stuck on - so more a PDA that you could make phone calls on than the modern Smartphone. While useful, they were very much a sign of the times (ah, the iPaq, HP Jornada - all good fun). MS had that much of the (very business oriented) market at the time because it was they and Blackberry - no retail user friendly Apple or mass market Android to steal their thunder. No easy to use App Store. No 3G data. Need I go on?

        7 was a true Smartphone implementation with a finger (rather than stylus) derived touch interface, an App Store and all those media and messaging apps 'we love' - so a whle different world to the early era. Unfortunately, for the reasons I stated earlier - it was too little, too late.

        Don't get me wrong, if my phone went bang right now, I'd probably risk Windows 10 - mainly on the basis of better the devil you (partially) know.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't be happer with build .164 on my 950

    As title, plus there's now an official Instagram app for peeps who fret over the supposed 'app gap'.

    Sure the Mozo case made the phone a 950 classier, but it wasn't an essential add-on.

    The reviewer didn't notice that Groove is happy playing 24bit/96Khz hi-rez FLAC files stored on a 200GB micro-SD card. Not a capability iPhone has IIRC.

  11. g00se

    Collateral damage or cannon fodder?

    Windows phone owners today are "collateral users" – they just happen to be standing in the path of a major platform update.

    Windows owners today ...


    And if you don't think you're standing in that path - yes you enterprise Win 7 users for instance - how sure are you that you won't see Win 10 the next time you look?

  12. John 104


    The way your review reads paints a horrible picture of windows mobile. Why would anyone even use the thing? It sounds like utter garbage. In today's mobile market, that doesn't cut it. Apps need to just work without fuss. People don't have the patience or time to fiddle with crap wares.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously?

      >review reads paints a horrible picture of windows mobile. Why would anyone even use the thing?<

      Because the review is an opinion, not fact. Not even close to fact.

      1. Phil Kingston

        Re: Seriously?

        From what I've seen of Win10 on phones, it's pretty accurate.

        Whilst starting from scratch (yet again) might be exciting, it's only as good as the product that comes out the end. Win10 Phone is nowhere near as nice to use as previous versions.

        Then there's the (lack of) hardware choices if, for some reason, you really wanted to use the OS.

        And if you want the best, most feature-rich, up-to-date versions of MS apps you're better off on other platforms anyway.

        Satya needs to man-up and kill it off. Before it becomes the reason he's booted out.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My 950 will not even update to .107, downloads, then errors, downloads, errors, downloads......

    on.29 at the moment, buggy as hell, requiring restarts every other day, either because the browser gives up being able to do anything or because it hangs and restarts itself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Updates

      Really, a down vote because my phone will not update and restarts every other day. Decided to just reset my phone after posting this, couple of hours later it's updated.

      Let's see if it helps, wonder if continuum works better, could easily crash the phone with that, open some apps, click the show app/ change desktop, crash and restart, every time.

  14. nkuk

    Why do they even bother any more

    Its been 6 years of constant false starts, failure and money down the drain with nothing to show for it, even buying out Nokia's phone division to keep it going resulted in the tiny marketshare shrinking even more. This is a classic example of Sunk Cost Fallacy.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Why do they even bother any more

      "Its been 6 years of constant false starts"

      That's MS's problem on the phone right there.

      Both Apple and Android were brought to the market as less than stellar products, but they were tweaked and polished over time until both were fairly decent (still not perfect) products, but better than the competition, which had pretty much sat stagnant and got their lunch eaten for them.

      MS was one, with virtually no improvements to version 6, but rallied and produced ver. 7... and dumped it just as developers were coming on board for a rewrite on ver. 8*... then again threw it out for a rewrite to ver. 10, and wonder where the developers were as they dither with it following no clear path.

      If they'd followed Apple and Google's path, constant tweaks and improvements to 7, they'd probably have a much higher percent of the market now.

      But, alas, that didn't fit their one OS on all platforms mindset, so here we are.

      *Yep, Winphone 7 apps mostly worked on Winphone 8, but developers were strongly encouraged to port them to 8 to "access the full utility of the new OS", but many didn't bother.

      The ones that did find MS trying to get them to do the same for 10, and all but the brave took their ball and went home to Apple and Android.

  15. Mike Taylor

    950XL user, pretty happy

    I was very dubious about buying a 950XL, given Andrew's reviews. Bit I'm glad I did (I needed two sims and a good big screen). I don't recognize the problems he reports. Yes, there were two or three bugs that annoyed me, but they seem to be getting sorted. Last night's upgrade resolved a couple. Hello works now accurately (gets me with and without glasses nearly all the time). Cortana is sweet. Some aps need more tinkering, and the tick for selecting menu options isn't as obvious as always. The learning process for swiping doesn't seem quite as accurate as on 8, but it's miles ahead of the iphone text entering.

    1. Arctic fox

      @Mike Taylor It is indeed peculiar.

      As I remarked earlier on this thread I am running a 640XL and a 640 on Win 10. I am not having any problems at all but people I read on other threads have real issues (with the same phones). What is going on here is something of a mystery. Nice to hear that you are enjoying your 950 BTW. ☺

      1. Mike Taylor

        Re: @Mike Taylor It is indeed peculiar.

        Good for keeping my hands warm on a cold day too!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a happy Winphone 8.1 user

    Love my 1020, added a 640. After what I've read about 10 for phones, I've switched off auto update. 8.1 for phones is a really nice user interface that works well. It really amazes me, though I know it shouldn't, that Microsoft are willing to rip up everything and start again. If they crap up my 1020, I'm off.

  17. YARR

    I hope MS are listening...

    Fair review points, seems like although there has been a big improvement it will be a while longer before Windows 10 Mobile is ready for full release. I hope they take their time to get it right than force this release on Windows Phone 8.1 users.

    Regarding the tiles not updating, I have this problem in 8.1 if battery saving is enabled, To get around it I have added the battery saving status to my quick action icons to I can turn it off occasionally. Really it would make sense to periodically update tile statuses when in battery saving mode.

  18. Fuzz

    There are still quite a few problems with Mobile 10 and I think Microsoft would be wise to take the time required to resolve the issues before they start upgrading 8.1 clients. I have a 950 and I knew when I bought it that I was buying in to a partially finished OS but for people already running 8.1 there's going to be some annoyance with loss of functionality if the upgrade happens automatically overnight.

    I upgraded a 625 to the latest preview build and it's actually usable which has never been the case with the older builds. The bugs that Andrew mentions are all there, live tiles that don't update are pretty annoying. There's also stuff in the background that has gone missing like AVRCP 1.4 if you currently control music on your phone using your car stereo you're going to get a shock when you upgrade.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but the keyboard obscures the send button...

    Did you know you can drag the keyboard up or down if it's in the way? Hold down on the space bar and drag...

  20. Bamboozled

    Waiting for Continuum and the new HP Elite x3, can't wait to dump the old beige box at home. It will fulfill all the needs I have on a PC these days.

    1. Richard Plinston

      > Waiting for Continuum and the new HP Elite x3, can't wait to dump the old beige box at home. It will fulfill all the needs I have on a PC these days.

      Including a spell checker, no doubt.

      Good luck running any of your existing programs and games on it, though. It has an ARM processor:

      """With a high-performance Qualcomm® Snapdragon 820 processor."""

  21. oldcoder

    Always "promising"...

    never delivering.

  22. Fursty Ferret

    I just switched away from Windows Phone

    I've used Windows Phones for years, and my last one - the Lumia 930 - worked brilliantly with Windows Phone 8.1. It's a disaster on Windows 10, though. Chews through battery, apps crash randomly on a frustratingly regular basis; mobile data is intermittent; calls connect but the microphone doesn't activate; Edge is slow; and Cortana feels abandoned.

    Don't get me wrong: I think the philosophy of Windows Phone as conceived was brilliant. The apathetic attitude from Microsoft towards making it work and the pointless purchase of Nokia (who really came up with the innovations in the later years) saw it collapse beyond rescue.

    I now have an Xperia Z5 Compact and am a little puzzled at how Microsoft managed to balls things up so spectacularly in comparison to the competition. There are two apps on the phone for email; three for text messaging; two calendars; two music players. I have no idea which one I'm supposed to use and I can't imagine any other random person who buys the phone will know either.

  23. Jedi1971

    Pretty bad

    I really want to move over to Windows mobile - but this is shockingly bad and some of this is occurring on my desktop too so I'm pretty sure these are serious problems that they need to resolved e.g. pinned sites with default tile, tiles not updating. I really love all of the concepts they've used but the product is truly substandard. I would even accept the premium price and sub premium build of the phones if the OS worked properly. The multiple apps for the same job that don't even work harmoniously is shocking - Onenote is another example....

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