For Windows phone users, Microsoft’s release of Build 10080 for Windows 10 phones on Thursday is the big one, adding the Office apps, the Xbox app, the new Windows Store, and more.
As expected, Microsoft said the current build is being pushed to those users who have subscribed to the Fast ring of Windows 10 updates, including those who own a Lumia Icon and even the HTC One M8—the first time a Windows 10 preview has been made available to those who owned phones not sold by Microsoft.
In short, there’s a boatload of new additions since Microsoft last released Build 10051 in April: the new Office apps, the new Store app, along with the Xbox app now appearing on Windows Phones. As in Windows 10 Build 10074 for PCs, there are also Music Preview and Video Preview apps, now for Windows phones. And there’s even a new Camera app too.
Why this matters: As with all prior builds of Windows 10 for phones, Microsoft (and PCWorld) recommends that you either use a spare phone or one you’ve bought specifically for testing. As with all test builds, all of these new features come with a corresponding boatload of bugs. But the new features are still exciting, and definitely point the way toward a revamped Windows 10 experience for phones.
The flagship apps: Office
Clearly, the most important element of the new build are the universal Office preview apps, now available for download through the new Windows Store app. Microsoft originally promised the new Office apps would be available at the end of last month, but they slipped a bit. We’re downloading the update now, so we’ll have a chance to play with the Office Preview apps—Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote—a bit later. But while we had some concerns with Microsoft’s overall Office experience, we’re fairly confident in saying that you’ll really like the look and feel of the new universal apps for Windows phones.
The Windows store app, now called Store (Beta), is also a universal app, meaning it should look more like the beta app available for Windows 10 PCs. Users can browse and download apps, even pay for them, but not use carrier billing to do so, Microsoft said.
Music and entertainment
Gamers will also appreciate the new Xbox app. Right now, the Xbox app is merely a portal into Microsoft’s Xbox-specific social network for Xbox owners, allowing you to review your achievements, check in your friends, and more. But there's more to come: "Over the coming weeks, we’ll update and add more Xbox features to the preview including OneGuide integration, Live TV Streaming, Game Hubs, and more," Microsoft said.
Microsoft’s recent release of Build 10061 for Windows 10 desktops added Music Preview and Video Preview apps, and it looks like the universal versions of those have now arrived on Windows Phone, to boot. Music Preview allows you to download and play music stored to your Xbox subscription—including music you yourself have uploaded to the Music folder in OneDrive. And more features are on their way.
“We’ve got more improvements coming in future app updates that will be delivered through the Store Beta including a Live Tile showing what’s currently playing, pinning favorites to your Start screen, exploring the full catalog and listening to Radio with an Xbox Music Pass, support for Kids Corner, the ability to shop for music in the Store Beta, and more,” Microsoft promised.
Likewise, the Video Preview app allows you to play back videos from your phone, both your own—including MKV files—as well as those you’ve purchased. There’s even syncing from the PC to the phone, so you can pick up from where you’ve left off, like you can with Netflix or other services.
In the future, Microsoft plans to add more manageability options. “In a future app update, we’ll be adding the ability to download movies and TV shows for offline playback, new device management so you can manage your offline downloads on the devices you care about, improved search results, movie reviews and cast info, and more,” Microsoft added.
Finally, there’s a new Camera app—but Microsoft hasn’t said too much about it yet. The company did say that high-end cameraphones—the 1520, 1020, 930, and others—will have features that aren’t totally supported by the app as yet.
Bugs, bugs, bugs
As usual, the new build brings with it some issues. Only one is really significant: You’ll need to have your cellular data conection turned on at all times, or you may risk losing MMS messages that are sent to you with the data connection turned off.
Otherwise, you may need to reinstall apps that are saved to the SD card. There may be a duplicate tile or too, and Twitter may not work. Also, Microsoft recommends that you make sure your Cortana settings are correct, or the app may repeatedly crash. In many cases, reinstalling the affected apps should solve the problem.
Updated at 12:28 PM with more details.