Windows Phone users: Microsoft is giving you its best look yet at what Windows 10 on smartphones will be like.
The company delivered a big update to its Windows 10 Mobile (Microsoft’s new namefor the smartphone version of its operating system) at a preview Thursday. The latest version of the software includes the new universal Office apps, Xbox app and the new Windows Store Beta. Microsoft is also finally making more devices eligible to get access to the technical preview.
The latest technical preview adds the revamped version of Microsoft’s app storefront, Windows Store Beta. When the new app store formally launches with Windows 10 Mobile, it will add carrier billing for the first time, meaning purchases made in the Windows Store will appear as part of your bill, though this is not enabled in the beta version. In the meantime, the app supports credit and gift cards and PayPal for payments and in-app purchases.
Notably, you can use the new Windows Store app to snag the preview version of the new Xbox app. “You can access your activity feed, achievements, friends list, activity alerts, messages, watch Game DVR clips, and connect to your Xbox One,” Microsoft writes on its Xbox blog. “Over the coming weeks, we’ll update and add more Xbox features to the preview including OneGuide integration, Live TV Streaming, Game Hubs, and more.”
Microsoft is also finally making the preview versions of its new touch-friendly Office apps available to Windows Phone users (also through the new Store Beta app). These apps are very similar to the iOS and Android Office suite, with small tweaks to accommodate Windows interface on mobile. One notable difference is the shift of the commands menu to the bottom of the display, which Microsoft has said is to better enable one-handed use.
The build also includes a new camera app and preview versions of what will be the stock music and video apps. The camera app has new HDR, video stabilization and facial recognition features. The music preview app allows you to pull in music from your OneDrive account and has a new design to make it easier to switch between songs. The video preview app supports Xbox Video and syncs videos between the console and phones.
Microsoft also expanded the lineup of devices that are eligible to get early access to the Windows 10 Mobile software. The Lumia 930 and Lumia Icon, the Lumia 640 and 640XL and the HTC One M8 for Windows are all eligible for the technical preview.
To be clear, even though the company is rolling out the technical preview to more devices, it is still very much early-release software, so you may want to hold off on installing it on your primary device. The latest build has a long list of known bugs, including an issue that disables cellular data and one that prevents MMS messages from being delivered.
Those who are wary of bug-filled previews, or who aren’t yet eligible for the preview, still have a while to wait before Windows 10 Mobile officially launches. Microsoft’s Gabe Aul confirmed Thursday that while the full version of Windows 10 Mobile will be available by the end of the year, the update won’t hit phones until some time after Windows 10 rolls out to desktop users.