Microsoft released the latest build of Windows 10 Mobile to Windows Insiders this week. Marked Build 10080, this release does two things: leapfrogs the Mobile build beyond the Pro build, last marked 10074, and brings us closer to a production release than any build we've seen to date. Granted, there were some release problems, with the Lumia Icon and 930 having serious issues with the release, but anyone involved in the Insider Program knows there are major risks participating, and no one would run it on their main device.
The system itself has become far more stable than previous builds. In my experience some apps do still have issues remaining open, but most of the affected apps are designed for Windows Phone 8 or 8.1, not newer native apps. With that said, the fairly common issue of apps closing unexpectedly has greatly decreased. In addition, access to lower-level system resources seem to have been fully restored, meaning apps like Netflix have recovered their full functionality. This is inline with Pro Build 10074, in which Hulu began working properly again.
We have also seen some major customization come back to the platform. First, the settings we gained in Pro 10074, like accent color, have made their way to this build. One capability that I personally was pleased to see was Start screen background style. For existing Windows Phone users, the style of background available there is something many of us love, with the image only showing through the transparent live tiles. The introduction of a full-bleed background was a jarring experience for many of us. Luckily, 10080 allows users to choose from 3 background choices: None, Tile and Full.
One of the most interesting moves of this new build, however, is its introduction of non-Lumia handsets to the program. Namely, the HTC One (M8) for Windows is now eligible to enroll in the program. This means that hardware vendors are getting their drivers put together, allowing 3rd party hardware support.
Most of the great new capabilities of the Xbox for Windows app is now available on Mobile. You can access Achievements, Activity Feed & Alerts, Friends, Game DVR and Messages no matter where you are. It's like the best of the SmartGlass apps and website all wrapped up in one. It also highlights the power of the new Windows Apps, and how the app can adjust itself based on the size of the screen.
Another set of Windows Apps available for the first time on Mobile is the Office Preview suite. First made available for Pro builds in February, the new universal versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint show off more than just how an app adjusts to a smaller screen - they show off how an app on a small screen can accomplish truly complex and complicated controls.
The concept of the Ribbon control, which was introduced in the desktop version of Office several years ago, is finally explained for the forward-thinking element it is. The grouped collections of controls, when transitioned to a small screen, makes for an easily navigable UI. Collapsed into an Application Bar, the grouped controls means that you don't have to wade through dozens of formatting elements in a single stream - instead you can go to a group and only look through a few related controls.
This build is not exactly ready for primetime, but it is getting closer. It is also converging the Pro and Mobile builds into a very similar thread, bringing to fruition the promise of a single experience on all of your screens.
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