Microsoft began rolling out Build 10051 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones on Friday, adding in the Project Spartan browser and tons of new apps. Microsoft also said that Spartan will, in the future, be the exclusive browser in Windows phones.
Specifically, the new update adds support for the Spartan Browser, plus new versions of several new apps: Mail, Calendar, Phone, Messaging, People, Maps, plus a new app switcher. While the update was scheduled to roll out at 10 a.m. Pacific on Friday, at press time I was still not able to download it on my Lumia 830.
Why this matters: On one hand, you can't be too critical of a company that rolls out a technical preview of an unreleased operating system for customers to pick at and suggest improvements. Unfortunately, Microsoft botched the rollout, as its provisioning process went awry. As such, the company took the update process offline until sometime after noon on Friday, meaning that users were left to wait for the update.
Unfortunately, the chief of the Windows 10 Insider program, Gabe Aul, said that customers who own a Lumia Icon; its international derivative, the Lumia 930; or the 640XL will not be able to download the new update, due to a scaling issue that makes the new UI too small to be usable. But he noted a long list of other phones that should be able to download the update, including the 1020 and 1520. Note that you'll need to have signed up on the Windows Insider app to receive updates on the so-called "Fast Ring" of frequently-updated builds.
As before, given this is preview (alpha) software, you're not advised to use your primary phone to download the new update. Why? Because Microsoft has sacrificed certain functions to test the new build, including the Office Hub, and the ability to automatically back up your photos to OneDrive.
Here's what's new in Build 10051
Microsoft hasn't yet published screenshots of the new apps, so we can't see what they look like. But here's a brief rundown of what to expect in the new update:
Project Spartan: Microsoft says future versions of Windows phones will exclusively run Project Spartan, the new, lightweight browser that debuted earlier on Windows 10. Kyle Pflug, a program manager for Spartan, wrote that the build may appear a bit lopsided, since the actions menu is larger than expected. Spartan includes early versions of the mobile reading view and reading list.
Pflug also dropped a bombshell. "You'll still find Internet Explorer 11 as the default browser in this preview--in a later update, Project Spartan will be the only browser included on Windows phones," he wrote.
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