The tech press has pretty much confirmed that Windows 10 Mobile, or whatever it will be called, is going to see the world next week. This is the SKU that is expected to run on phones, ARM tablets, and on small Intel/AMD tablets as well. So much for MWC, eh?
Windows Phone 8.1 was already able to run on tablets, thanks to the WiFi feature pack Microsoft made available to OEMs last year, but no one has made such a device to date, and with Windows 10 on the horizon, it remains unlikely that anyone will.
Microsoft has confirmed that all existing Lumias which shipped with Windows 8 and 8.1 on them will receive an update to Windows 10 Mobile, so we can expect the new OS to be just as versatile as 8.1. Due to this promise, I think we will see Microsoft continue to ship new Lumias, perhaps even a new flagship, before Windows 10 is unleashed onto the masses.
Of course, this mobile OS will share the same NT kernel as Windows 10, just like Windows Phone 8.x does with Windows 8.x, and we know that write-once-run-anywhere apps are coming too, vastly expanding the target market for app makers. I am hoping this will open the floodgates on the Store for new apps, but who knows? Even Android still has a small app gap with iOS, and all the kickass peripherals are iStuff only, even with iOS firmly in second place in market share.
So, with that in mind, let me speculate a bit.
On the tablet side, I expect some RT based tablets to have access to the new OS, which will not have a desktop. Small Intel and AMD tablets will also likely be able to run this new SKU of Windows 10, and I fully expect an ISO and an installer to be available for such devices. I own a Dell Venue 8 Pro, and it’s running Windows 10 Technical Preview. I can honestly say that putting the Tech Preview on that tablet was a horrible mistake, and I have been unable to roll my tablet back to Windows 8.1 or any other OS for that matter. Removing the desktop from such a small device will make it much more useful to me, and I also expect Windows 10 Mobile to run much faster on devices like it.
Focusing on the OS itself, it has been rumored that we will see the UX evolve further, with more cues from the Zune HD in the form of exploding tiles. It’s also guessed by many that we’ll see a different implementation of wallpapers on the Start Screen. Of course, the new Spartan browser will be in the OS, and I think we will see HID device support and USB OTG support added as well, finally allowing bluetooth keyboards to be used.
Biometrics support may arrive as well, allowing fingerprint scanners to be available on Windows phones.
I believe we will see native printing support make its way into the OS, and a native NFC wallet as well, without the need for an enhanced SIM or clumsy third party apps like SoftCard. Microsoft cannot allow Apple Pay and Google Wallet to stand unchallenged any longer.
Internet tethering over Bluetooth is already present in Windows Phone GDR1, so that removes a feature from my wishlist, however, I want to see Live Lockscreens become part of the OS, with an exposed API left for third party devs.
Some have guessed that Microsoft will shelve Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2, aka, Lumia Emerald, in favor of Windows 10, but if development is already underway, I imagine it will be released in the summer as a stopgap for Windows 10 Mobile.
One thing to keep in mind – there have been absolutely no leaks of Windows 10 Mobile. No screenshots, no photos, no videos, not even an appearance on a benchmarking database. Microsoft has kept this SKU totally underwraps. Leading up to the 21st, this may change, but don’t be disappointed if you have to wait until 9 AM PST on the 21st to see the new OS.