Microsoft’s app updates drag Windows 10 mobile towards the finish line, but issues remain

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It’s no secret I’ve been ragging on Windows 10 mobile for a while, and to be fair most of my criticisms extend to the desktop version of Windows 10 as well. In the past week or so Microsoft has been busy releasing a flurry of updates to the Windows 10 mobile OS, and while for users who have been using this OS continously it is merely just one more update after another, when compared to the original apps that Microsoft shipped a while ago, the difference is nearly night and day.

The awful store UX bug which I noted a few weeks ago has finally been fixed, the Groove team has tightened up Groove Music so much so that I feel that I can actually start using it again, Outlook Mail and Calendar, Camera, Photos and other Windows 10 apps have received a near steady stream of updates to add features like folders, albums, UI changes and all that.

In short, Windows 10 mobile is in a very good place, with the OS just being a build (0r 2) away from perfection. We should note that while we had heard that Microsoft was planning to complete Windows 10 Mobile in the middle of september, they missed their deadline but are still on track for an October/November public release (the Insider page has now been updated to remove all reference to October 1 and September 15). At this point, Windows 10 is very nearly done.

Yet, it is not perfect for everyone. If you didn’t like Windows 10 because of the UI, then nothing has changed so far. I prefer the newer UI now over the older one, and I now think the hamburger menu makes sense in some locations but not all, however this is a matter of personal preference.  The Skype Messaging integration is still not here, though once more I think Microsoft may be saving that for its next week’s demo. Most irritatinlgy Microsoft has killed some concepts like app connect, quick cards and related features – these were the features that made Bing/Cortana able to integrate with apps like Evernote and reccomend apps for installation on your device. It was  a useful feature, and Microsoft’s new Cortana replacement isn’t that good in terms of mobile optimization.  The only other gripe I have is performance, my last epedition with Windows 10 mobile was fraught with loading and resuming screens, and while a hard reset seems to have mitigated the problem somewhat, its not very reassuring that an issue with appeared (more) in Windows Phone 8.1 has yet to be fixed in Windows 10 mobile.

There are only 6 days to go till Microsoft offically announces the Lumia 950 and 950 XL with Windows 10, are there any more surpises left in the OS?  We can speculate all we want right now, but the fact is, if the blogosphere hasn’t picked anything up, then Microsoft either has nothing else to offer but polish or its holding its cards close to its chest. The last major issue Windows Phone has in its way is the lack of apps., While Windows may have a lot of apps, the lack of *critical apps* like Snapchat (I have just realised how huge this app is), a decent Instagram client and other apps will hurt Windows Phone right off the bat if Microsoft has nothing new to announce. Staying on that topic, I would note that Microsoft’s UWP rollout plans have been a bit underwhelming. The OS maker showcased a huge number of app partners, few of whom have shown up with UWP apps (even Google) and a larger number of whom have simply not bothered to produce anything particularly interesting even as they roll out iOS 9 apps. Even Microsoft has yet to convert all its native apps like PDF reader and Podcasts to UWP apps so there is a bit of mixed messaging going on there regarding Microsoft’s commitment to its own platform.

However, if one were to take a look at Windows 10 as an OS, we can see that it actually is very well done and a powerful smartphone OS for 2015. If Microsoft can tighten it up, polish up all its core apps and services, and sell the Lumia 950 and 950 XL as well as it sold the Lumia 520, then they would have been successful. That’s a pretty huge if, and a lot depends on Microsoft at the moment. Can they do it, will they half-ass it yet again? The only thing left to do, is wait and see what Redmond has to offer. Hopefully, it won’t be another case of “soon”.

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