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What to expect from your Windows 10 Mobile upgrade

Mark Hachman | March 21, 2016
If your older Windows Phone 8.1 phone is one of the lucky ones, we're here to walk you through the process.

My test Lumia 930 immediately informed me that a Windows 10 Mobile update was in fact ready, while a Lumia 830 received the slightly disappointing message that Microsoft was instead “working with your mobile operator and phone manufacturer to make the upgrade available for your phone and you’ll see a notification when that’s ready.” That means you won’t get Windows 10 today.

Don’t be surprised if you get that message, according to Microsoft. “The availability of Windows 10 Mobile as an upgrade for existing Windows Phone 8.1 devices will vary by device manufacturer, device model, country or region, mobile operator or service provider, hardware limitations, and other factors,” a Microsoft representative told me.

If your Windows 10 update is available, however, your phone should tell you to access your Settings menu and select the “Update your phone” option to begin the process. I did so, and discovered that the update had already begun downloading. 

(At this point, some of you may be wondering: What if I don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile? Will the upgrade eventually be pushed to my phone, as Microsoft has done with Windows 10 for the desktop? We can’t say for certain, but at this point the upgrade process seems to be purely voluntary.)

Off we go!

From here on out, the upgrade should go relatively smoothly. My actual installation took about 37 minutes on the Lumia 930, with an additional 11 minutes or so to manage the upgrade of my installed apps.

Afterward, your device will restart. My Lumia 930 hung with an error message, but an additional restart fixed it.

Congratulations! You’re almost done. Now, for some housecleaning.

Take a spin around Windows 10 Mobile, as we did in our review of the Windows 10 Mobile OS. Note that you’ll probably need to reconfigure some apps like Outlook Mail (or just Outlook in Windows Phone 8.1) and add back your login information, and walk through the introductions to OneDrive and other apps again. (Chances are those apps will begin updating in the background.) Take a few minutes to launch these apps, just to ensure they’re properly configured and will begin sending notifications. Don’t forget Cortana—she’ll preserve your preferences in the cloud, but she’ll need you to tap her tile to wake her up.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use any of your newly upgraded hardware with the Microsoft Display Dock; in fact, the Continuum app, which enables phones like the Lumia 950 to project their screens onto external monitors, doesn’t even appear. (The Lumia 950 also includes a USB-C connector that connects it to the Dock; older phones lack that hardware.)


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