UPDATE: Microsoft released Office for Windows 10 on Wednesday, and indicated that Windows 10 for phones is not going to be released this week.
The Windows Insider app on Windows Phone has received a few updates, a rebranding, and a small UX overhaul since it was published publicly in the Windows Phone Store. As far as anyone can tell, the app is still not usable by anyone outside of Microsoft. Just try to log in with your Microsoft account; the app begins to loop you through its landing and login pages.
So, why does the title of this post imply that the preview is being unleashed in the first week of February? The early launch of Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9926 makes up part of the tea leaves I am examining. The other part is this string of updates which we’ve seen of the Windows Insider app on the Windows Phone OS. Lastly, Microsoft has said, and still says, that the phone version of Windows 10 will enter the preview stage in February.
There will be minimum hardware requirements for installing the preview, but whatever these are remain unpublished for now. It will not be surprising to see Microsoft initially restrict the Preview to devices with 1GB of RAM or more, or even to specific devices, such as the Lumia 1520 and HTC One M8.
Don’t get mad, I’m sure additional phones will be added as new builds are released and these unknown requirements scale downward. Also, Microsoft has made it clear that even the lowly Lumia 520 will get the final bits when Windows 10 goes gold, assuming the carriers wish to deliver the update. By that point, the Lumia 520 will be around two years old, whilst the Lumia 920 will be almost three years old. Name an Android phone which is getting official updates at that age. No, please do, I’d like to hear about it.
As I previously said, there will be features which will not hit every phone. This is already the case with Windows Phone 8 and 8.1, and all are related to hardware. If your phone lacks NFC for example, the OS will not expose the NFC settings to the user. On Lumia phones, if you have a low end device, EQ settings are not available because of CPU limitations. And, as I said previously, existing phones will not support DirectX 12 unless Microsoft chooses to implement a Feature Level on existing mobile GPUs. Nothing has been said about hardware support for DirectX 12 on mobile, but I won’t hold my breath.
So, with these factors in mind, I expect a somewhat limited debut of Windows 10 Technical Preview next week. Of course, I could be completely wrong, but the tea leaves I’m reading indicate an imminent launch.