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Windows 10 for mobile and tablet: New features explained

The wait for an official Windows 10 announcement is over, folks. Microsoft showed the next iteration of its computing platform to a packed auditorium in Seattle – and boy is there a lot to take in.

Windows 10 is more than just a desktop operating system. The successor to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (Windows 9 never happened) is, in fact, tailored to work on all kinds of hardware, meaning your phone or tablet will run a scaled-back version of the desktop shebang.

The idea is to allow for all kinds of integration, workflow improvements and app-sharing. But there’s more to Windows 10 than convenience and familiarity. Here are the best features for phone and tablet users and how you can get your hands on it.

More customisation

Users will find their familiar, live tile-based ‘Metro’ interface remains intact on a phone or small tablet, but customisation options – such as the ability to add a full background image as your wallpaper – have been added, giving you the chance to personalise your device more than ever.

Improved user-interface

Windows 10 should make navigating your device easier than ever. Your recently installed apps now sit at the top of your apps list, allowing you to hone in on the important app you just installed to accomplish a task. The mobile version of Windows 10, meanwhile, shares its ‘Settings and Action Centre’ menus with the desktop version of Windows 10 so it’s instantly familiar.

Skype integration

Integration with Skype has been greatly improved in Windows 10. The update will let you send Skype messages and SMS from the same place, and you will be able to switch between them seamlessly. Usefully, notifications will be synced with your PC, too.

Cortana voice control

User input has been beefed-up in Windows 10. You will be able to dictate your texts and emails via the microphone key on your device’s keyboard. Early versions of Cortana handled voice recognition competently and it seems as if Windows 10 takes things further, offering solid performance even for tough, non-dictionary words and even automated punctuation.

Keyboard improvements

If you prefer the old fashioned way of typing and you have a larger screened smartphone or tablet, you will be able to pop your keyboard out from the bottom of the screen, allowing for more comfortable typing. A new mini-joystick, meanwhile, lets you move the cursor around more accurately so less hassle when trying to make an edit.

Universal apps

‘Universal apps’ are apps that work on any device. One benefit is that devs will only have to write one app and it will work across your PC and mobile devices. Consumers will enjoy almost the same Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Calendar functionality regardless of the device they are using.

New Photo app

Windows 10 is clever enough to format photos correctly on a tablet, smartphone or computer, thanks to the new Photo app. OneDrive integration means you can access your photos anywhere. The Photo app will also aggregate all pictures and remove any unnecessary duplicates taken during a burst photo shot so you have a neater view.

Project Spartan

Project Spartan is Microsoft’s compelling attempt at rivalling Chrome and Safari. Features include a minimal UI, a new rendering engine and a reading list that syncs with your Pocket or Instapaper account. Exactly when mobile users will get these new features is unclear.

So is Microsoft on to a winner?

From what we have seen, yes. The fact that Microsoft is offering the update free to all Windows 7, 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users means that fragmentation will (hopefully) be reduced and the continued integration with Windows on the PC is a winner, because – contrary to what Apple and Google fans might say – it’s still the world’s favourite operating system.

When and how can I get Windows 10?

Microsoft is yet to announce when Windows 10 will be released. But you can try out the Windows 10 Technical Preview between now and the 15th of April 2015.

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