Microsoft’s new Windows 10 build allows you to text from your PC, but it’s the bug fixes that impress
Unfortunately, it requires an upgrade from Windows Phone 8.1 -- again.
By Mark Hachman
PCWorldOct 20, 2015 3:59 pm PDT
Microsoft launched build 10572 of Windows 10 Mobile to its insiders, together with a few nifty improvements on the messaging fronts. But, as before, you’ll still need to first downgrade to Windows Phone 8.1 to take advantage.
Microsoft did say, however, that this two-steps-back, one-step-ahead approach will soon stop, and users in the Windows Insider program will once again be able to upgrade from Windows 10 preview builds without having to downgrade first.
But the new build offers several intriguing new features, such as the ability to receive a notification on your Windows 10 PC that you’ve missed a call, and then to send a text via your PC’s Cortana assistant. The new build also boasts improvements to Skype and Skype messaging, improved Cortana tracking of movies and events, and the ability to book a car through Uber. Finally, the new build includes support for offline maps stored on the SD card as well as a new storage experience that’s shared with Windows 10 for the desktop.
And while they might not be classified as new features, some aspects, such as the phone displaying Notifications without first unlocking the device, and some Cortana power optimizations, should be a welcome update as the clock ticks toward a forthcoming release of Windows 10 for phones.
Why this matters: We’re still not quite sure when Windows 10 Mobile will launch, but we’re nearing the finish line. Being able to send texts from your PC to your Windows 10 phone isn’t something the Mac can do (according to the Macworld editors). It’s the laundry list of features, many of them substantial, that you should have your eye on.
Getting it out fast
As before, Microsoft wanted its insiders to have a chance to try out the new additions ASAP.
“This build has a bunch of great fixes and some very cool new feature additions, and we wanted to give Insiders who really wanted to try it out the opportunity to do so a bit early,” Gabe Aul, vice president of the Windows Devices Engineering team, said in a blog post. “Rest assured, if you’re on 10549.4 or an earlier build you’ll be able to upgrade to 10575 (or newer) once it’s out. So if you want to wait for it, we completely understand and it won’t be too long.”
Microsoft released build 10549 of Windows 10 about a week ago, which also required users to upgrade from (or first downgrade to) Windows Phone 8.1 before applying the update. That build included improvements to the Messaging app, and Aul said then that the upcoming mobile build would share the Skype messaging improvements added to Build 10565 of Windows 10.
Those improvements includeSkype integration through the Messaging, Phone, and Skype universal Windows apps, Aul said Tuesday. Additionally, the Messaging app now supports animated GIFs and the ability to search your messages; the Phone app also has the ability to search your call history.
If you’re also running preview build 10565 or higher of Windows 10, your phone can now send an alert that you received a text. At any time, you can tell Cortana to “text,” and she’ll send one to a recipient, as well.
Some nice bug fixes
While the new features are nice additions, it’s the additional bug fixes that should have preview users excited. They include, according to Microsoft:
Notifications, such as new messages, can be received without first unlocking the device.
Cortana’s background activity has been optimized for power usage.
Microsoft has fixed some of the issues that were causing the Start screen to not load, and improved the performance.
Events in the Action Center can now be dismissed via swiping.
The new preview also comes with some bugs, however, including visual voicemail being broken on some devices, photos not being shared with third-party apps, and an odd bug that prevents devices that have been updated from Windows Phone 8 to 8.1 and then to Windows 10 from connecting to Wi-Fi or from updating to Windows 10 builds altogether.