Will Windows 10 Mobile be Ready to Launch with Windows 10?

There’s been some doubt expressed in the IT community recently about whether Microsoft will be able to deliver Windows 10 in time for a summer release, but of more concern is whether Windows 10 Mobile will be completed at the same time and to a satisfactory standard.

Windows 8.1 was released to manufacturing (RTM) in September 2013, but Windows Phone 8.1 didn’t appear until seven months later in spring 2014. Since the release of Windows Phone 8.1, I’ve found it to be an ideal companion to Windows 8.1, and in reflection, the months of delay between the OS launches left an unfortunate gap in the Windows ecosystem. There was a good technical reason for this delay, namely a set of new APIs to allow Windows Phone 8.1 to run Universal apps, which share up to ninety percent of their code with Windows Store apps.

The Windows 10 Technical Preview was launched in October 2014 and has proven good enough for many to install it on their primary devices, but I’ve chosen not go down that route for the moment; partly due to having been caught out in the past with the Windows 8 Release Candidate, which had some annoying bugs that were difficult to live with, some applications which don’t yet work properly in Windows 10, but more importantly due to my reliance on the Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 partnership, and the natural extension Phone provides to Windows 8.1.

The Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview only appeared in February 2015, and along with the news that just a small subset of Lumia phones would be supported initially, it was clear that Windows 10 Mobile was so rough around the edges, that it was unlikely anyone would want to use it on their main device. As an early beta that might be acceptable, but Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile need to develop at the same pace for any meaningful testing to take place, as we live in a world where we’re encouraged to put our entire lives in the cloud, and most of us are using a minimum of two devices, with many apps and features that need to be synchronized.

As a tech enthusiast and professional, my initial instinct is to jump in at the deep end, trying to resolve any problems as best I can. But I’ve come to rely on both phone and notebook so much that they must work together in reasonable harmony, even if this is just a beta. This leaves me wondering whether it will be possible to upgrade to Windows 10 even once it’s RTM’d, if Windows 10 Mobile development doesn’t proceed at the same pace as its desktop counterpart.

I’ve been waiting for Windows 10 Technical Preview to include Spartan, which will absorb the Reading List app functionality, and include much needed offline reading capability. That problem has been partially solved in Windows 10 build 10049, except that Spartan’s reading list feature doesn’t synchronize with the standalone Reading List app on other devices, or Windows Phone 8.1, in the current build.

Better Together

Microsoft might not feel the need to forge ahead with Windows 10 Mobile development as quickly as Windows 10, considering Windows Phone’s diminutive market share, but both OSes must debut at the same time for consumers and businesses to buy in to the One Windows mantra, with Windows 10 Mobile offering an experience that is as warmly received as Windows 10 Technical Preview has been.

The goal to release Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile to manufacturing this summer isn’t necessarily unrealistic, but the final releases needs to be more than just good enough, considering the lukewarm reaction to Windows 8. Any failure to get Windows 10 Mobile out the door at the same time could limit the number of users able to upgrade, and if that situation were to arise, Microsoft should ensure at the very least that apps running on Windows Phone 8.1 devices are updated for Windows 10 compatibility.