Thursday, 27 July 2017

Microsoft previews Windows 10 for smartphones, launches two mid-range Lumia

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom, in Barcelona
Monday 02 March 15

Software giant shows off 'universal apps' designed to offer consistent experience spanning multiple device types.

Microsoft kicked off Mobile World Congress on Monday by previewing the upcoming Windows 10 for smartphones and launching two new mid-range Lumia handsets. Due to launch later this year, Windows 10 represents Microsoft's concerted effort to deliver a consistent user interface irrespective of device type. "We should not obsess about the mobility of the devices but the mobility of the experience…

Microsoft kicked off Mobile World Congress on Monday by previewing the upcoming Windows 10 for smartphones and launching two new mid-range Lumia handsets.

Due to launch later this year, Windows 10 represents Microsoft's concerted effort to deliver a consistent user interface irrespective of device type.

"We should not obsess about the mobility of the devices but the mobility of the experience," said Stephen Elop, executive vice president of Microsoft's devices and services business.

With that in mind, Microsoft has been working on what it calls universal apps: software that automatically synchronises between devices via the cloud, so a task can be started on a desktop computer, for instance, and completed on a tablet without the user having to transfer files or data between them.

For example, Word, Excel and Powerpoint will become universal apps, allowing the same documents, spreadsheets and presentations to be accessed and edited on any device. Likewise, the Web browser and maps app will automatically save recent searches, so a user can instantly access the results on a Windows tablet, PC or smartphone.

Furthermore, Microsoft's personal assistant, Cortana, will also synchronise reminders between devices.

For smaller screens, Microsoft has tweaked certain interface elements in order to maximise ease of use, but the overall look is designed to be familiar regardless of what type of device is being used.

Windows 10 is still a work in progress, so there was no flagship Windows 10 phone unveiling from Microsoft on Monday. However, Elop did launch two new mid-range smartphones, the Lumia 640, and its larger-screened stablemate, the 640 XL. Both will ship with Windows 8.1 but are fully upgradeable to Windows 10.

"Flagship phones based on Windows 10 will be announced later this year," said Elop, who explained that any Windows Phone currently running Windows 8.1 will be capable of running Windows 10, although he admitted that some Windows 10 features will be missing from lower-spec handsets.

As for the Lumia 640 and 640 XL, they come with a year's subscription to Office 365 that will allow customers to install Office applications on one PC, and on one Surface tablet, in addition to their smartphone. They will also receive 60 free Skype minutes per month.

They offer "amazingly superior value" to enterprise customers, Elop claimed, thanks to their productivity software, mobile security credentials, and competitive price.

The 640 and 640 XL will ship in single SIM and dual SIM editions; customers will also have a choice of a 3G or 4G version. They are due to go on sale in various markets in April. A 3G Lumia 640 will cost €139, while the LTE version will cost €159. For the 640 XL, the 3G and LTE versions are priced at €189 and €219 respectively.

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