There is nothing more frustrating about Windows Phone than finding out that one of the services that I have to use on a daily basis does not have an app in Store, nor is there a third-party offering available. The poor developer support is one of the main reasons why I switched to iPhone 6 Plus late last year, after using Windows Phones exclusively for nearly two years straight.
However, in the case of some services, at least there is hope. Slack, the communication tool that we use at BetaNews, does not currently have a Windows Phone client, but the company behind the service is actively working on one, showing off an early build on Twitter.
In an impromptu Q&A on Twitter, Microsoft's Joe Belfiore has revealed more about how Continuum will work on Windows 10 for Phones. He started off by saying that it is a very high-end feature and will require new hardware as it uses dual screens.
Continuum is part of Microsoft's drive to make a uniform experience for Windows 10 users across a range of different devices -- from desktops and laptops, to tablets and smartphones. Belfiore shared pictures of a Xiaomi Mi4 showing how Continuum allows windows to be moved from a desktop to mobile display, giving a tantalizing glimpse of what's to come.
Microsoft really is going all-out with its Windows 10 campaigning in the week and a half before launch. The latest carrot to dangle tantalizingly in front of would-be upgraders is the news that Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, is spreading into new markets. When Windows 10 launches on July 29, Cortana will be available in the US, UK, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.
Today, Microsoft says that the tool will be made available to Windows Insiders in Japan, Australia, Canada (English), and India in the coming months. Cortana will continue to spread around the world launching in Brazil, Mexico, and Canada (French) by the end of the year. If you were wondering, there's a very good reason that Cortana is not available everywhere from day one.
Running out of space and having to shift files and apps to a memory card is a familiar scenario for smartphone users. It's also something that affects tablets, and with the imminent release of Windows 10 talk has turned to how Microsoft's latest operating system with handle things.
The company had previously said that, just like Windows Phone, it will be possible to install apps to an SD card on tablets which have limited space. That said, this is a feature that will be missing from Windows 10 when it launches in eleven days. Microsoft has taken a last minute decision to delay the feature as it's not quite finished.
As 4G LTE network starts to gain traction in India, Microsoft is looking to make the most out of it. The company announces today that it is pushing out a firmware update to select existing Windows Phone handsets in the country to enable 4G connectivity option in them.
The handsets that are eligible to get the update are as follows: the Lumia 1520, the Lumia 1320, the Lumia 1020, the Lumia 930, the Lumia 925, the Lumia 920, the Lumia 830, and the Lumia 625. A Microsoft spokesperson tells me that these handsets always had the 4G radio in them, but back at the time of their launch -- due to the unavailability of LTE networks -- the company had disabled this connectivity option.
Microsoft announced earlier this year that it will be bringing Windows Phone's digital voice assistant, Cortana to the desktop as well as rival mobile platforms. We've already seen Cortana -- the rival of Apple's Siri, and Google's Google Now -- on Windows 10 technical preview, and now we're getting our first look at Cortana on Android.
While the company is yet to officially release Cortana on Android, the APK file of the digital voice assistant got leaked a few minutes ago. We tested the APK and did the signature verification, and can report and confirm that it is all legit. You can download it from here (though; it is advised you always snag things from official channels).
Microsoft launches universal app store for Windows 10 [Update: Actually, it's not the unified store...]
The launch of Windows 10 is as much about creating a unified Windows experience and a new ecosystem as anything else. Windows 10 for desktops/laptops and for Windows Phone are closely linked and Microsoft wanted to make life easier for developers and users alike when it comes to apps.
To this end the company has launched a web version of its app store, merging the previous Windows Store and Windows Phone Store into one repository. Pay a visit to the online store and it is now possible to browse through the selection of Windows apps and Windows Phone apps in one place. Update: Microsoft contacted BetaNews with more information; see more at the end of the article.
Microsoft: Not giving up on phones; aims to build profitable portfolio by releasing 'killer' handsets
Has Microsoft given up on Windows Phone? Will there be no new Lumia devices? Microsoft realizes the amount of debate and confusion it wittingly created earlier this month when it announced restructuring of its phone division, in which it showed the door to more than 7,000 employees. At the ongoing WPC event, the company went in-depth to convince people that it is still committed to doing great things with its mobile operating system.
At the event, Microsoft's Chief Operations Officer Kevin Turner made some new announcements. He boldly claimed that Microsoft will continue to make new Lumia smartphones -- and "killer" ones at that. He further noted that the recent restructuring at the company was done to make its phone platform grow profitability and become sustainable.
Windows 10 is free; that much we know. There was initially some confusion about the length of time for which this would be the case, but one of the biggest questions surrounding the giveaway has been 'why?'. Is Microsoft aping Apple? Does the company feel that the operating system was not good enough to warrant a price tag?
The actual reason is rather interesting, and was revealed in an interview between Satya Nadella and ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. This is not (really) a bid to compete with Apple, nor is it (particularly) meant to encourage as many people as possible to move away from Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1 (although this will almost certainly be a happy side-effect). Rather it is a move to boost the profile of Windows Phone.
Something that many Windows Phone users have been asking for is a little flexibility with how apps are downloaded and installed. One particular request is the ability to download apps using a PC rather than with a handset. A new tool leaked by a Microsoft employee makes this possible.
The appropriately-named Windows Phone Assistant is an official Microsoft tool that has been used internally. Nawzil released the software in response to a series of requests from people, granting greater control over apps. The leaked tool is available for anyone to download -- you just need to be running Windows Phone 8.1 GDR 2.
Microsoft announced yesterday that it is slashing 7,800 jobs, mostly from the phone-hardware business it picked up from Nokia. As a result, the software giant is writing off $7.6 billion, which is actually more than the $7.2 billion it paid Nokia in the first place. But, more importantly, the move signifies that Windows Phone, its smartphone operating system, is now being put on the slower release cycle.
Microsoft is scaling back. The software giant is losing money instead of making anything big off its phone division. In the five years of its existence, Windows Phone is yet to get past three percent market share. And that’s finally a reality check to its ambitions.
Just over a week on from Microsoft's announcement that it was getting out of the display advertising business with the loss of 1,200 jobs, the company's CEO is wielding his ax again.
This time up to 7,800 jobs are set to go in the company's phone hardware business as it says that the future prospects for the segment are, "...below original expectations".
Builds of the desktop version of Windows 10 have been released at an accelerated pace in recent weeks, but Windows 10 Mobile users have had far fewer updates to install. A couple of weeks ago, build 10149 was made available to Insiders on the Fast Ring and today it makes its way to the Slow Ring.
Build 10149 has been deemed stable enough to make its way to a larger audience. New features to look forward to include Microsoft Edge, Cortana improvements, updated apps, and plenty of bug fixes.
Skype for Business is Microsoft's new enterprise communication tool, serving as a replacement for Lync in the software giant's business-oriented lineup. It was officially released in April, with new features and improvements coming from its predecessor, but is only now available on Windows Phone.
Windows Phone is actually the first major mobile platform which offers a Skype for Business app, with Android and iOS still having the old Lync 2013 client in their respective app stores. The transition from Lync 2013 to Skype for Business, on Windows Phone, is accompanied by new features.
If you are in the market for a new Windows Phone now is the time to pull the trigger. Microsoft is running an attractive promotion, giving customers a free pair of Nokia headphones with the purchase of any Windows Phone from its online store.
And I mean any Windows Phone. This promotion applies to all Acer, BLU, Microsoft and Nokia-branded Windows Phone devices that Microsoft sells, so you are not limited to a certain brand or, most importantly, a certain price bracket.