Events are written in the order they happened in, give or take two paragraphs. All settings names are translated from Norwegian. Last updated 26th of March 2016.
Here the other day, Microsoft dropped a bomb that de facto cancelled the support lifecycle of about half of the world’s Windows Phones. Gathered together from scattered pieces of official announcements and second-hand blogs, almost all of the relatively very popular 2014 models were found to not be powerful enough to run Windows 10, or at the very least not powerful enough to make the non-Insider builds become employed to people who expect their phones to be very stable.
I had previously refused to download Windows Insider builds on the grounds that they were not available in Norwegian or Danish. English would be one step down since I enjoy preserving and expanding the Norwegian language, and although Norwegian and Swedish are very alike, the two have a number of verbs that are comical or incomprehensive to the other party. But upon hearing that Windows Insider would lock out unsupported phones sometime this week, I installed the 10586 Insider build on a whim, to beat the clock. Which things worked with it? Which things were improved, and which things did not work in it?
The first thing I can say, is that the 10586 insider build actually is available in Norwegian. So that was a big plus right off the bat.
The update procedure is a bit slow; it altogether took my Nokia Lumia 630 about 2 hours 15 minutes to update from Windows Phone 8.1 Lumia Denim, to Windows 10 10586. You’re probably best served choosing “Release Candidate” as your update channel, but I’m not sure whether the channels have much of a difference if it’s so that all of them are somewhere around build 10586.
Upon having upgraded, you’ll find that a lot of visual things are the same. The lockscreen have a different font, and always keeps the bottom row empty, as opposed to only when you had actually got notifications.
The home menu likewise only differ in the font and in the logos of some of the included apps. Your colour choice and [light/dark/image] theme remains the very same. You’ll notice that there are suddenly a few empty spots on your home menu, giving me a feeling of “Goddammit, what apps have they been removing? I can’t remember! Argh!”. After a day of remembering things, very few actual apps have been removed. The hub function in the contacts actually is gone*, which they promised a year ago that it would. Lumia Camera is also no longer usable; it can be downloaded from the Store, but the app only tells you that its support has been cut and shows a link to the normal Camera app. The biggest holes, though, comes from that your Start screen links to Word documents, websites and specific settings (á la “Data use”) must be found and pinned all over again.
This update won’t give you any sort of mirage miracle functions like 4G, USB On-The-Go or 5GHz Wi-Fi. Just so you’re aware of that.
Another thing I began to notice when I began to use the phone and had started a bunch of delicious long-denied app updates, is that it got pretty hot, compared to how it was 102% of the time I used it with Windows Phone 8.1. It also began to burn off the battery time at a speed that has previously only been seen on Nintendo 3DS systems, and wasted 15% of the capacity in one hour. The solution turned out to be Battery Saving, which should’ve been made obligatory by default if Lumia 630 sensationally ever get non-Insider Windows 10 support. Suddenly the battery time was almost as awesome as on Windows Phone 8.1, sustaining 1 ½-2 days on one charge depending on the use.
The big catch with Battery Saving, is that app tiles very rarely update anymore, which can be fatal for things like weather apps and E-mail notifications. To get the most out of Battery Saving, I went to Battery Saving → Settings for battery saving, and set “Activate battery saving automatically if the battery goes below” to 100%, and picked four apps in the “Always allow” section: E-mail/Calendar, Messages, Frost (weather app), and ‘Get TV-guide’ (“Get” being a Norwegian cable provider). And after these fine tunings, my phone menu was almost as normalized as I felt it was on Windows Phone.
You should be aware of one serious inability with the phone on Windows 10: It cannot run Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at the same time. Activating a Bluetooth connection, will show error messages á la “Cannot connect” on your Wi-Fi settings page, followed by an ability to discover any networks. Turning off Bluetooth will see your Wi-Fi working perfectly again. You can perfectly use both of these things, but only one at a time; this is not a claim that you cannot use Bluetooth on your phone.
The settings categories has been revamped, so you’ll need a day or two to learn where all your settings are now. The highlight among the new categories is Privacy, where you can learn all about what permissions your apps need. Among those apps, Groove Music and “Movies & TV” seemed to have a very chunky amount of permissions, including ones they couldn’t even remotely have any use for, such as Messages, Contacts, and Phone Calls. Uuuuuh… huh. Thankfully, the worst of these permissions can be turned off. Most apps that use Location and Microphone may actually need it, but for most other permissions, these are only optional things that you can turn off if you feel that any given app doesn’t actually need certain permissions that it has.
But we all know that there is only one real reason for why anyone on planet Earth would want to upgrade to Windows 10. App updates. Microsoft have initiated the lethal combination of 1) Making a whole new app environment that only Windows 10 units can use, and 2) Making sure that these apps and updates have zero support for any Windows 8 units. Accordingly, vital Windows Phone 8.1 apps like Twitter, Office and Deezer have gone with very few and very small updates for the past 18 months. Heck, Twitter on Windows Phone still uses stars for its Favorites/Likes. Windows Phone 8.1 is 98% certain to be considered unsupported as of 25th of March 2016, sort of like with Windows XP except with even smaller program support.
Because, in contrast to early prognoses, there are actually a select few major developers who have begun to take Universal Apps seriously, leading to at the very least some improved app functionality, compared to the “Dummy’s first app” approach that were especially common on Windows 8 PC. They’re not many, and they’re not from the heaps of companies out there who hated Windows Phone *hark*Snapchat*sneeze*, but they are there, and they are improvements.
On Windows Phone 8.x, Xbox Music was a huge shame for the mobile, featuring poor UI and constantly pushing its music store on you. Imagine if one app combined iTunes Store and iPod/Music, with the former being given prominence. Now they’ve (mostly) fixed that, with Groove Music, which actually allows you to start up the app at your local music library. The phone also now supports FLAC, but still not OGG.
In addition, Word has seen improvements, although some of it is only through some form of function emulation. On Windows Phone 8.1, Word did not support ODF or TXT, the lack of which made it pretty much worthless for me. On Windows 10, Word does sort-of improve the support, in that they can convert ODF files to uneditable DOCX files upon opening them, and can from that point further make an editable DOCX copy of it. It also still cannot open ODF or TXT if they’re stored natively on the phone. It’s very troublesome if you like ODF, and it can cause a number of document duplicates, but one-fifth of a support is (at least usually) better than zero support.
Certain settings and apps had been reset. The ringtones for messages had to be picked again, while Wallet had been replaced with a new app with the same name, and had to be re-pinned as well as that its cards had to be re-added to the Wallet.
Apps can crash to Start screen apropos of nothing, but it usually only takes ten seconds to get back to where you were. The Contacts app doesn’t actually seem to list my Twitter contacts. Skype is integrated into Messages, with consequences I can only theoretically imagine. A number of small problems are here and there and hidden everywhere.
Overall, using Windows 10 Mobile on Lumia 630 is 3 steps forward, 3 steps back and 5 steps on the spot. It’s not completely unusable like a number of people are claiming, as long as you know how to pick the right settings for the phone.
*= The Contacts app portrays GroupMe as a supported alternative, but this requires having some sort of comfort with using Skype services, which I don’t really have.