Windows 10 Preview for phones
Windows 10 technical preview for phones is now available to download Microsoft

Microsoft has just announced that it has finally made the Windows 10 technical preview available for a select range of smartphones.

The Preview, just like the versions of Windows 10 technical preview if has released for desktops over the last few months, is missing a number of significant features which Microsoft showed off at its event on 21 January last, primarily the new versions of the Office, Calendar and Mail apps - as well as the updated Cortana on all builds except the US English version.

Microsoft says the preview should be downloaded by Windows Phone customers who "love to try the latest stuff before anyone else" or obviously developers and IT pro who works with Windows Phones. Microsoft says: "You'll be getting an insider's view and getting builds that normally would have only been available to Microsoft engineers in the past."

Here we go through the Lumia smartphones the Windows 10 Preview is available for, how to download the new software, how to install it, and what new features you can expect to see.

Which Lumia smartphones can install Windows 10 Preview?

Initially, only six smartphones will compatible with the upgrade:

  • Lumia 630
  • Lumia 635
  • Lumia 636
  • Lumia 730
  • Lumia 735
  • Lumia 830

What about the flagship devices like Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520?

Surprisingly Microsoft won't be bringing the Windows 10 Preview to its flagship smartphones initially at least. The reason for this is that the lower end devices have recovery images and if anything did go wrong, you would be able to restore the phones to the version of Windows Phone currently installed on the phone.

Another issue relates to a feature called "partition stitching" coming in a later build which will "allow us to adjust the OS partition dynamically to create room for the install process to be able to update the OS in-place."

It should be noted that Microsoft says it has yet to brick a single device in testing, but that is not impossible.

Backup before installation

Ok, so you have one of the phones on the supported list, the next thing to do is to backup your apps, photos and other stuff on your phone to OneDrive so that should anything go awry, you won't lose any of your important information.

Here are instructions on how to backup and restore on Windows Phone.

How to install Windows 10 Previews for Phones

  • First, sign up for the Windows Insider Program, if you haven't already
  • Download the Windows Insider app from the Windows Phone Store
  • Once it finishes downloading, open the app on your phone and follow the instructions to install Technical Preview
  • Builds will come to you automatically as they are ready, after being validated by engineers at Microsoft and used on their own phones
  • Use the built-in Windows Feedback app to report problems and suggestions
  • Updates will continue all the way up to the final build that goes out to all customers
  • You can roll your phone back to the previous OS at any time

So, whats new in Windows 10 Preview for phones?

  • Full-size wallpapers for your Start screen
  • Improved quick actions in Action Center with users now getting three rows of notificaitons compared to a single one in Windows Phone 8.1
  • And those notifications are now interactive allowing you to take action directly like dismissing an alarm, or seeing images for maps, and instantly replying inline via text or voice.
  • Improved speech-to-text capability: You can talk to virtually any data field you choose. Your words show up as you speak them – and punctuation appears automatically. This feature is smart enough to understand when to use 'two' – the number — instead of 'too' as in 'also'.
  • The Photos app is much more powerful syncing the photos from your phone with your OneDrive photos
  • While the full Project Spartan browser won't be included, you will get some idea of how it will work as the Spartan engine will be hosted within Internet Explorer.

What's problems should you look out for in Windows 10 Preview for Phones?

Microsoft has helpfully listed a number of known bugs in the software, and here they have listed suggested workarounds for these issues:

  • Existing alarms will not be migrated to Windows 10
  • Wi-Fi settings don't roam when phone is upgraded to Windows 10
  • VPN not available in current Windows 10 builds. Setting will fail to launch
  • Additional language keyboards may not be present and may not be able to install on US builds after upgrading to Windows 10
  • Photos app will fail to launch periodically when attempting to add a photo attachment to an email, OneNote or Facebook item
  • Cortana tile and settings are missing on the start screen after upgrade
  • After upgrade, tapping on "Playlist" from start screen or from within Music App fails to play music. Playlists are greyed out
  • Trying to set lock screen picture will fail at times
  • Sync and pair to Microsoft Band doesn't work after updating to Windows 10
  • Cellular data not working while roaming, despite enabling data roaming
  • Apps are not displayed in Battery saver after the upgrade
  • Quiet Hours is missing the automatic rule that enables Quiet hours during calendar appointments marked busy

What languages are supported on Windows 10 Preview for Phones?

Arabic, Catalan, Czech, Dutch, English (UK & US), Finnish, French (Canada & France), German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish (Spain & Mexico/LatAm), Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Vietnamese