Windows 10 is Microsoft’s great unifier, the single operating system that will run across devices of all shapes and sizes, and today we get to see how its mobile version will perform. Designed to run on ARM processors in tablets and smartphones, the mobile Windows 10 is Microsoft’s successor to the ill-fated Windows RT and Windows Phone efforts, though the hope is that it can combine the best elements of both and rectify the things that held them back.
Joe Belfiore today demonstrated the new experience tailored specifically for phones and tablets with screens of 8 inches and smaller. The most immediate change is a shift of the background image to sit behind the UI tiles, making for a much tidier and more attractive interface. The settings menu has also been cleaned up dramatically, with Belfiore noting it’s a universal app that will function identically whether on the desktop or mobile version.
Like with Windows 10 for the desktop, the goal with the mobile version is to deliver a universal experience that transfers seamlessly between devices. One of the best examples of that is the new Action Center, which collects notifications and syncs with your PC, allowing you to dismiss a notification across devices. There’s also new support for in-line responses to notifications, such as writing a quick reply to a text message directly via the notification. Microsoft has added a dictation option too, plus the ability to move the keyboard around on the screen so it floats wherever you want it.
Microsoft is bringing back the messaging switching capabilities it used to have in Windows Phone, so that you can swap between talking to people over SMS, Skype, and other apps. Skype is the only chat app to have this level of deep integration so far, but Belfiore has repeatedly noted that this is still an early build of the software and bringing in others like Facebook and WhatsApp will surely be high on Microsoft’s list of priorities.
The list of of universal apps that Microsoft has up and running includes a better-looking, touch-optimized version of its Office suite, a new Outlook mail client, and new Calendar and Photos apps. Belfiore concluded the mobile presentation with the announcement of the new Project Spartan web browser, which, like all the other unified apps, is designed to work across mobile and desktop devices with the same level of alacrity.
The first build of Windows 10 for phones will be made available to members of the Windows Insider Program in February.