Microsoft’s Free Windows 10 Update offer launched last summer to lots of fanfare and positive reviews. Since then, Microsoft has provided the update free of charge to everyone that wants it. As it discussed Windows 10 for notebooks and tablets, it also revealed Windows 10 Mobile, the update that millions are getting their hands on right now.
Just as rumors predict it would, Microsoft kicked off Windows 10 Mobile upgrades on March 17th, finally giving owners of older devices the opportunity to try out its operating system on their handsets without potentially ruining their warranty or having to live through bugs.
What the Windows 10 Mobile Update Is
Put simply, Windows 10 Mobile is the spiritual successor to Windows Phone 8.1. It’s also the official companion software of the Windows 10 operating system that millions now have on their notebooks, desktops and tablets.
Like with regular Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile is dominated by Live Tiles that users can resize. The two operating systems share a lot of information, making life easier for everyone who decides to use both. The Microsoft Edge browser inside the Windows 10 Mobile syncs passwords and browser history with regular Windows 10 devices. OneDrive, the cloud storage service that’s built into Windows 10, is built into Windows 10 Mobile. The Cortana personal assistant is present in Windows 10 Mobile too.
The big reason everyone wants the Windows 10 Mobile update are the apps and the Windows Store. To drive the companion point home, Microsoft uses a single Microsoft Account and Windows Store for all versions of Windows 10. Apps made for Windows 10 work on Windows 10 Mobile. Music and video purchases sync between both of the operating systems too.
The Windows 10 Mobile update is for anyone who has Windows 10 on their computer and wants a companion experience on their smartphone.
Who the Windows 10 Mobile is For
As an upgrade, Windows 10 Mobile is specifically for smartphones that already have Windows Phone 8.1 installed on them. That’s the basic premise anyway.
In reality, there are some details that are very important here. First, Windows 10 Mobile updates are only coming to smartphones that meet specific hardware requirements. For a lot of people, that’s nothing to worry about. For others, that’s a big problem. 8GB of storage is required for the Windows 10 Mobile update. In addition to storage, device makers have to support the upgrade and a device needs to have enough RAM. What that leaves us is with is a list of devices that’s very Microsoft-centric.
As of today, the following devices have the Windows 10 Mobile Update available to them:
- Lumia 1520
- Lumia 930
- Lumia 640
- Lumia 640 XL
- Lumia 730
- Lumia 735
- Lumia 830
- Lumia 532
- Lumia 535
- Lumia 540
- Lumia 635 with 1GB of RAM
- Lumia 636 with 1GB of RAM
- Lumia 638 with 1GB of RAM
- Lumia 430
- Lumia 435
- BLU Win HD w510u
- BLU Win HD LTE x1505q
- MCJ Madosma Q501
Devices believed to not be getting the Windows 10 Mobile Update include the Lumia Icon for Verizon, and Lumia 810 on T-Mobile. HTC UK recently confirmed that the HTC 8X won’t be among the devices getting the Windows 10 Mobile update, according to Softpedia.
Microsoft is making Windows 10 Mobile available to carriers. Those wireless carriers will then approve the update for devices on their network. It’s because of this that two Lumia 930s on two different wireless carriers might receive the update at different times. Devices purchased directly from Microsoft and not a carrier should have the update available to them now.
To make the upgrade process a little easier for everyone, Windows 10 Mobile is taking a page from the rollout of standard Windows 10. An UpdateAdviser app that’s now available in the Windows Store for download helps users determine whether their Windows phones are ready for the upgrade.
In what’s being considered a somewhat unorthodox decision, Microsoft has moved to drop some of the smartphone that it had planned to launch Windows 10 Mobile on. The Lumia 520, the best selling Windows phone ever, according to mobile analytic firms, isn’t getting the Windows 10 Mobile Update today. In fact, the smartphone may never get the upgrade. Microsoft says that it used the Windows Insiders program and feedback from users to determine which devices it’d be able to deliver a decent experience on and which it wouldn’t.
Note that to get the Windows 10 Mobile Update you don’t necessarily have to wait for Microsoft to provide it. The Windows Insiders Program gets users firmware and software updates earlier than anyone else. Microsoft says that users who add Windows 10 Mobile to their device through the program can expect the operating system to install just fine.
Only those with Windows phones that are eligible for the official upgrade will continue to get improvements through the Windows Insiders Program though.
There are other ways to get the software. Windows 10 Mobile comes installed on two Microsoft-made smartphones already, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL. Microsoft sells those devices unlocked on its Microsoft Store website. American carrier AT&T sells the Lumia 950 directly to its customers. Slowly, Microsoft’s partners are also unleashing the software update on their devices. The Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL for T-Mobile has the upgrade.