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Hands on with Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones: Subtle improvements make your phone more productive

Mark Hachman | Feb. 16, 2015
The technical preview of Windows 10 for phones seems like an aesthetic upgrade for the moment. But the integrated speech recognition is actually a powerful addition, and indicative of Microsoft's continued emphasis on productivity.

The apps menu also shows a section of "recently installed" apps at the top of the screen.

Photos provides a first look at "universal" apps

The technical preview of Windows 10 for phones and small tablets also includes a look at one of the new "universal apps," Photos.

The look and feel of universal apps will be the same no matter whether they're on a phone, tablet, or PC. On Windows Phone 8, the Photos apps places a slight border around each image, and it only shows images stored on the phone itself. On Windows 10, Microsoft has removed the border, and Photos now displays images on the phone and on OneDrive. Moreover, Photos includes the "albums" feature  Microsoft added to OneDrive last month. About the only bug I found is that photos taken with the phone don't seem to upload to OneDrive, even if backup is turned on.

A keyboard joystick?

There's one other feature that may be of interest within the technical preview: a small "joystick" that appears within the soft keyboard. When editing text, Microsoft's Windows Phone highlights entire words by default, making typos (such as a mistyped character in a password) difficult to correct. The joystick steps in and allows you to step through words, character by character. 

The last improvement is strictly aesthetic: Microsoft has changed the Live Tile structure again, so that you now can add a background. That's a slight change from Windows Phone 8.1, where the "background" is contained within the Live Tiles itself. Now, it swims "underneath" the tiles themselves.

I've said before that Windows 10's goal isn't to sell a particular device or operating system, but to sell the integrated Microsoft ecosystem as a whole. I continue to believe that Windows 10 isn't moving so much ahead as laterally, tying other Windows devices more tightly together. As a whole, however, Windows continues to improve. I'm eager to see what subsequent builds have in store.


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