Windows 10 for phones on Lumia 930
The Windows 10 for phones preview is now available to Lumia 930, Lumia 640 and the HTC One (M8) IBTimes UK

Microsoft has released a new preview of Windows 10 for phones featuring for the first time access to the app store, universal Office apps and support for a new range of smartphones.

When Microsoft finally releases its new operating system that has been designed to work on phones and tablets, it will be called Windows 10 Mobile, but for now, as part of its Windows Insider program, the company is continuing to refer to the previews as Windows 10 for phones.

The latest update to be released by Microsoft is Build 10080 and it brings with it the biggest update to the system we have seen so far over Windows Phone 8.1.

As described by Microsoft Gabe Aul in an extensive blog post, the latest preview of Windows 10 for phones "brings many improvements but also because it adds support for a few important phones that Insiders have been asking us about".

One of the biggest additions is access to a beta version of the Windows Store for phones, which mirrors the Windows Store available in preview builds of the desktop version of Windows 10 – though app selection and the markets where the Store are available on phones are currently limited.

Carrier billing

Microsoft has also yet to roll out one of the most interesting Windows 10 features, which is carrier billing, allowing users to buy apps and in-app content without the need for a credit card, with the cost being added to the user's mobile phone bill – a feature which is extremely important in many of the developing markets Microsoft is targeting.

Aside from the new store, Build 10080 brings Universal Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote), for the first time as well as the new Xbox app, new Music and Video apps and an updated Camera app for Windows 10.

Microsoft has expanded the range of compatible phones to include the Lumia 930, the recently released Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL and the first non-Lumia device to get the Windows 10 previews – the HTC One (M8) for Windows.

Initially Microsoft limited the preview to just a handful of Lumia devices but it has gradually increased the number of compatible phones since it began previews in February.

Windows 10 Mobile release date

Microsoft has this week revealed that Windows 10 will be available in seven different versions or Editions, with two focused at smartphones and small tablets – Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise – with the latter aimed at winning a slice of the business market.

Aul also reiterated something which was first mentioned at the company's developer conference last month regarding the release date of Windows 10 on phones:

Because we're treating Windows more like a service, this allows us to release Windows 10 on different devices and customers at different times. For phones, Windows 10 will arrive later this year – both on new devices and also upgrades for existing Windows Phone 8.1 devices. Even though Windows 10 will be arriving for phones later than it does for PCs, the underlying OS code is still the same.

There are however a number of bugs in the preview, with the most significant being one which means that MMS messages may not get through to your phone if you are out of coverage at the time the message is sent.

If you are feeling brave however, and you do want to download the Windows 10 for phones preview, here's how to go about it:

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