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Windows 10 for phones: A change in name, but not in core features

Mark Hachman | Jan. 23, 2015
The most important change may be the name: Windows Phone has vanished in favor of Windows 10. But aside from some iterative changes to apps, change does not seem to be a-coming.

While Microsoft showed a new dialing hub, messaging seems to be where the focus lies. Sure, the user interface is a bit different, but the point seems to be that SMS and Skype messages have the same weight, and appear in the same conversation. Users can also quickly exit a message thread and call the person for a more direct followup. (The related People app will allow you to save a preferred method of communication--email, text, WhatsApp, etc.--for each contact.) Although you can dictate messages via Cortana, you can't send the short audio snippets that Apple touts so highly with iOS. 

Although we were briefed the night before on the new Lumia Camera app, Sami Niemi, the man overseeing Microsoft's photography experience, had a new tidbit of news: all Windows 10 devices will receive then new Lumia Camera app.

Aside from that, the new Photos app will also traverse phones and PCs as a universal app, aggregating all the content it finds in new "Collections."  One nice addition: The ability to scrub through a video clip, so you can see what part of a movie you're in without having to guess, begin playing, recognize you're in the wrong section of the movie, and try again.

It's not certain, but it appears the dozen or so Outlook and Mail experiences on the Web and within apps will be unified. How, however, isn't quite clear.

On phones, Outlook will also call Word--not overtly, with a splash screen, but behind the scenes--to render Word attachments that are included in emails. Interestingly, this was referred to as "universal Word," an interesting name. Remember, we still haven't really seen Microsoft launch a touch-based version of Office yet.

Email can be either deleted or flagged by swiping it left or right, respectively, executives said.

Again, the theme of the "phones" portion of the event on Wednesday seemed to be less about Windows 10 itself than universal apps. We'd expect to hear more at Microsoft's BUILD conference this April.


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