Review: Hands-on with Windows 10

The Windows Phone operating system has been a breath of fresh air since it hit the market a few years back, quickly climbing up the ranks to become the third most popular OS in use. So, after announcing its latest software update, can the Microsoft based kit push on and really challenge Android and iOS for the top spot?

We’re here to take a look into the new system and sum up whether it will prove to be a success or to let you know about any possible flaws. So if you’re seriously considering ditching your Android or iOS smartphone, you might want to give this review a read first.

Windows 10 Features

One of the main talking points and something Microsoft were continually promoting during the announcement of its next operating system was unification. This essentially means that no matter what device you happen to be using Windows 10 on, it will look and feel the same.

Whilst each different sized device will conform to specific display sizes, apps will meet the demands of every set-up – whether it be a fully-fledged desktop PC or small screened smartphone. Data will also carry over between each device, so if you save a Word document on one device, it will be right there on any of your other Windows 10 powered pieces of kit.

Messaging is another area which is also getting refreshed by this unification, bringing all of your notifications together into one place. Microsoft apps automatically boast this feature, so your Skype and text messages will be side by side, third-party apps like Whatsapp however will have to work on an update to join in on the fun.

Maps and photos are two more apps getting a boost as well by uniting with the other Windows 10 devices, also sharing information to make for a smoother overall experience. Finally, Cortana will be offering more improvements, further extending its case as one of the best voice assistants on the market.

Windows 10 Smartphone Design

Microsoft’s efforts on the design front with Windows 8 were very well received, giving users a simple, intuitive and pleasant experience. It’s a similar case this time around as well, with the trusted Windows 8 style being tweaked for a fresher approach.

The Live Tile feature which won over so many fans is sticking around, but with a more transparent feel. This makes the design look much more fluid, whilst also allowing for extra personalisation with a visible background to suit your style.

Other smaller changes have also been implemented, but essentially it’s the same design as before with a little bit more glitz and glam. Users will be able to handle things like tile size, notification display and tile colour as they did before, making it not just a good looking product, but one which is as practical as ever.

Windows 10 Performance

It’s hard to make a solid judgement of Windows 10 right now as it’s only been on show just the once, but after getting a good look at the system, it’s definitely promising. The general speed was top notch regardless of which device it was used upon and the Lumia 1520 it was displayed on showed no lag whatsoever during the announcement.

The promise of handsets like the Lumia 530, 625 and 630 will be a much sterner test for the software, as they won’t pack a punch as good as one of Microsoft’s high-end devices. Even still, we don’t expect any major issues to be encountered.

We didn’t spot any issues with any of the apps on show during the announcement, but it will be interesting to see how apps designed specifically for the PC or Xbox fare on less powerful pieces of hardware. This is one of the real questions about the app unification which remains unanswered for now, but then it seems like Microsoft is working hard to ensure this isn’t a problem.

Overall, the performance was to the level you’d expect for any new OS, albeit in a showcased environment. If we were able to get into the nitty-gritty of the system we’re sure we’d find some performance issues but with preview handsets getting the update in February, many of the problems will get ironed out soon enough.

Release Date:

Still up for speculation for now, the release date for Windows 10 is listed as ‘later on in 2015’ according to Microsoft. What this means exactly is debatable – it could be in the next couple months or a good 6-8 months off.

As we mentioned earlier, preview handsets owned by developers will be getting the system in February, but this isn’t designed for commercial use. In fact, we certainly wouldn’t recommend pushing for it unless you are genuinely using it for app developing purposes as it will be incredibly buggy and prone to crashes.

On the plus side, it won’t be costing you anything when it does arrive, and will be hitting plenty of Windows Phone 8.1 devices. For now, you’ll just have to wait and see until Microsoft give us a confirmed launch date, just don’t go holding your breath just yet…