Want to Test-Drive Windows 10 for Phones?

Windows Phone has never threatened Google Android or Apple’s iPhone for smartphone supremacy, but Microsoft doesn’t seem ready to give up on the platform quite yet.

Anyone who’s registered as a Windows Insider tester can check out the first build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. According to Microsoft’s corporate blog posting, the preview “is still very much under development and you’re going to see some rough edges.” Microsoft is releasing the software at this early stage in order to solicit as much feedback as possible before the platform makes its public debut on some as-yet-unannounced date (although rumors suggest a fall time frame).

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“Much of our work until this point has been on platform development rather than the completeness of the UI, so a lot isn’t immediately visible—like the fact that we have a common OS core and app platform across PC and phones,” the posting added. In theory, testers will get a glimpse of how apps will work seamlessly across Windows devices, from the smartphone to the laptop. The preview will include only a limited range of Lumia smartphones, including the 630, 635, 636, 730, and 830.

Visible features in the preview include “programmable quick actions” in the Windows Phone Action Center, which is where users receive notifications; enhanced speech-to-text capability; a revamped Photos app; interactive notifications; and the ability to customize the Start screen with a full-size background image.

As Microsoft itself cautioned, that isn’t a lot of features. There are also bugs in the build that could interfere with the user experience. “We haven’t bricked a single phone during all of our internal testing, but it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE, so you should be aware that there is some potential risk for you,” the blog cautioned. “In addition, bugs could prevent access to important features for you, including phone dialing and other core functionality.”

That doesn’t sound like a company that’s trying to use an early preview as a backdoor way to build up some buzz. Rather, it seems there’s a genuine desire for feedback here, and for good reason: If Windows 10 on phones doesn’t succeed, what does that mean for Microsoft’s chances in the smartphone space?

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Image: Microsoft

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