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Comparison: Windows 10 Technical Preview vs Windows Phone 8.1

Lumia 630 with Windows 10 Technical Preview
  • On February 18, 2015

What is new in Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones

Last week, Microsoft released the first test version of Windows 10 to a subset of Lumia smartphones – Lumia 630, 635, 636, 637, 730 and 830. I have been running the Technical Preview on a Nokia Lumia 630 for three days and I am impressed how smooth this early version is on a smartphone with just 512 MB of RAM (I actually expected a much worse performance). This fact raises hopes that the next builds will be much better than version 1.

At the same time, there are many bugs, unfinished and missing parts, UI pieces that just don’t fit together, but I think this is pretty normal for such an early version of Windows 10. Here you can see all new features and changes in Windows 10 Technical Preview compared with the official Windows Phone 8.1.1 (Denim) version.

Start Screen

Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones Start Screen and Tiles

The Live Tiles in Windows 10 are translucent instead of the transparent in Windows Phone, and you can set a full size background. Microsoft confirmed that the transparent option will return in the next builds of Windows 10. There are new experimental Tile sizes – tall and big. The background can be seen in the App List, and there is a new section at the top of the app list showing recently installed apps.

Action Center & Notifications

Single notifications in Windows 10 can be cleared by sliding to the right. Quick Actions can be expanded, while the text link to Settings has been moved to the Quick Action. Long pressing a quick action icon takes you directly to the individual setting page.

Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones Action Center

Users can see more information than just a snippet from a single notification by clicking on the small arrow. As an alternative, users can reply to messages and dismiss alarms and reminders directly from the toast notifications, without opening the main app. I hope that more apps like Facebook Messenger, Skype and Viber will benefit from this new functionality in the future.

Phone app

The Phone app has been redesigned. The Dialer is much smaller than that in Windows Phone and looks unfinished. The ability to swipe left or write to move between pages is missing.

Windows 10 Technical Preview Phone dialer


File Explorer

File Explorer replaces the old Files application announced with Windows Phone 8.1. The new app has the hamburger menu at the top left corner and ellipsis & menu bar at the bottom which I find confusing. In terms of features, File Explorer has all the essentials (copy, cut, renamed, properties and more), but more functionalities could be added in the next versions.

Windows 10 Technical Preview Phone dialer file explorer app

Files Windows phone 8.1


New features in the Keyboard are the microphone icon at the top and the precision pointer between letters ‘z’ and ‘x’. If the app allows, you can press the microphone icon and use voice to dictate. The virtual pointing stick is a nice addition too. Long pressing the icon allows you to move the cursor through texts for easy re-positioning.

Windows 10 Technical Preview keyboard


Photos is one of the first universal apps available for PCs and phones. This early version of the app shows all photos from the Cloud and the Phone’s storage in a chronological order. Folders and Albums are not available in this early version, but they will be added in future builds. Today, Photos looks like an Alpha version with many glitches. For example, photos are loaded each time you open the app, which is quite annoying. If you want to install this first Technical Preview you’d better use Lumia Storyteller for viewing photos.

Windows 10 Technical Preview Photos app

Windows Phone Photos


This is another universal app for Windows 10 with the new hamburger menu. Calculator for Windows 10 offers much more in terms of features than the simple Calculator in Windows Phone. You can switch between different calculators and there is a built-in converter for converting Volume, Temperature, Area, Speed, Time, Energy, Weight and more units.

Windows 10 Technical Preview Calculator


The new Alarms app now has a World Clock, a Timer and a Stopwatch, plus a new header menu.

Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones alarms


The Main Settings Page has been completely rebuilt, and it now looks identical to the Settings menu in Windows 10 for PCs. Settings for Phones are now grouped into categories with icons, but after tapping on a sub-category and individual settings you will see both new and old design languages.

Settings Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones

White settings pages with much smaller fonts (like Maps, Cortana, Display, Photos and more) are mixed with traditional black setting screens from Windows Phone. I personally hope that all settings pages will eventually turn into black and there won’t be annoying white screens (especially in a dark theme) in the final release.

New Settings Windows 10 Technical Preview


Cortana also gets a new design (I hope it is not final) with a white color in the background instead of black and a Burger Menu revealing pages like Home, Notebook, Reminders, Places, Quiet hours, and Settings.

Windows 10 Technical Preview Cortana phones


Windows Feedback is a new app that allows you to send information about bugs and suggestions for future improvements.

Windows Feedback Windows 10