Well, right on time, as promised, we get a technical preview edition of Windows 10 for the phone in February. The only problem is that it doesn't work on my Lovely Lumia 1520. This is a technical thing involving the size of the boot images and phone internal storage. I reckon this is fair enough. The only problem is that I really want to have a go. Enter a bright orange Lumia 630 into my life.
You can pick up unlocked versions of these from Amazon for well under 100 pounds and they are actually a smashing little phone. They have nice things like a removable back and exchangeable battery, along with a socket for an SD card to boost the rather internal memory. They can also run the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Yay!
The install process was easy enough. I did it over the afternoon, just checking every now and then to see if the progress bars had moved any. You just install the Windows Insider application (you can find it here) then follow the instructions. There's a "red pill - blue pill" moment where you have to choose between bleeding edge or an older but slightly better supported preview version (I went for bleeding edge - of course) but after that everything runs on rails. Microsoft really are getting good at rolling out over the air updates.
And when it has all finished you are left with the latest build of Windows 10 on your phone. And you can play "spot the difference". Lots of things look exactly the same, almost certainly because they are exactly the same just at the moment. The Settings menu has had a makeover, the keyboard is a bit different, there's a file explorer and you have to configure the phone to the US region of you want Cortana.
From the point of view of Microsoft I think it makes very good sense to use the lower spec. phones to start with. If things run OK on the slower devices they are going to run really well on the larger ones. In fact the quality of the experience on the Lumia 630 brings out a problem that Microsoft have with flagship devices. Just what do you make the flagship do that sets it apart from the very acceptable behaviour of this low cost Lumia?
I was very pleased to find that Cheese Lander works fine on the phone, as has much everything else I've tried. I've had a few freezes in Internet Explorer but nothing that would stop me from using this phone as my daily driver. The interface is a bit choppy sometimes and there are occasional flashes of red screen as the video catches up, but it all works fine. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the system evolves in the future.