So I made the jump this Friday night and decided to take a look at the Windows Phone 10 Technical Preview (TP) that Microsoft offers to download and install on any Lumia phone that is part of their compatibility list..
My Nokia Lumia 920 was on the list so I installed the ‘Microsoft Insider’ apps from the Windows Store that Microsoft makes available for all those that are willing to sacrifice their loved device… Be warned (and so does MS), never try that with a phone that you rely on a daily basis to make phone calls and send/receive text messages… the TP might still be full of bugs and their is no real support you can expect either from MS or your carrier… only the Insider Forums..
So Microsoft provides plenty of explanation on how to do the upgrade and why you should do it, especially for the all new internet browser called Spartan and the new maps application… that was enough to convince me to do the jump.
Have you seen any phone company that offers a free app to try out the next major release of its OS ? no one except Microsoft ! Go to the Windows Phone App store and download the “Windows Insider” application. Once this is installed, you can use the link inside the app to get the latest preview build (TP) for your phone… it downloads and installs it on your phone without for you to do any cryptic intervention like it’s often the case when you want to test out the next Beta version of Android… and any other flavor derived from that OS.
Now be warned about the comments other users make about this application… it’s not that the app doesn’t do what it is supposed to do, what the outcome of that process… Once your phone was fully upgraded to Win10 TP, it reboots a couple of times to complete the installation and than you should (hopefully) get a brand new working OS… or so I thought.
My experience with the WP10 TP was less then pleasant since I ran into multiple issues with my installed applications that I had on WP 8.1 (and I have quite a few ones).. Microsoft was touting its new Bing map application that’s supposed to replace all the “Here” Nokia apps for all the range covered by them (Here Drive+ Car GPS with driving directions, google like maps with satellite, Here Transit for public transportation and City Lense, just to name a few). The problem was that after the update, none of those apps worked anymore and the embedded Bing Map neither did.. In WP 8.1 there is a feature to download your own maps to have them even when your off-line (no network), so you can use your GPS application even outdoor in the wood when trekking in remote locations with not network coverage… or when travelling overseas, it is very handy to download the country or region maps on your phone, so you can save yourself the renting of a Car GPS (which car rent agencies are proud to offer you for 10$/day… what a shame).
Not deterred by the issues with the maps, I tried to fix the problem by removing the old downloaded maps and re-install them… no success. The system kept telling me that the maps were invalid, but when trying to delete them, was always saying they were locked by another process (which was not true…). I kept going with other applications test, which most didn’t worked and above all, everything was much smaller on the screen than with WP 8.1.. somehow Microsoft thought it was a great idea to pack more on the same pixel density, ending up to make it so small that average people have a hard time to read it.. The Lumia 920 has a pretty high DPI, which makes it for a great crisp display, but that doesn’t mean you should use it in a way that from now on you need a looking glass to decrypt your phone.
After my phone self-rebooted a couple of time with the message “your phone runs too hot, need to shutdown”.. which was true, I never had experienced my 920 running that much hot.. the rare occasion this happens is when I use it in my car as GPS and it’s plugged on the charger at the same time, but never to this extend. I ended up to decide that this new build is definitely not worth the upgrade, nor do I think will I do it when WP10 will officially be released, even after several months of GA, until other users from the Lumia community can confirm that it runs stable and MS has fixed most of the concerns.
Now the bad part. Microsoft touted that it is as easy to roll back from the WP10 TP as it is to upgrade.. at least many people say so… but I found out the hard way that for some strange reasons, at least 10-15% of users that installed the TP could not… they either got stuck within the middle of the rollback process, basically ending with bricked phones, or the Windows application on your desktop would simply not recognize your phone as a device to be rolled-back (which was my case)… So off I was to find another solution. I first tried a factory reset, which didn’t helped at all, making things even worse. I then found this thread on Windows Central, but after several failed attempts with Nokia Care to flash my 920, I had to find another solution (curiously this was working fine the last time I upgraded my WP 8.0 to 8.1…).
It was finally on the good old XDA-Dev forums that I found the answer to recover my bricked 920.. The post there explained how you needed to download the firmware image (FFU file) and use Microsoft’s Windows Phone Image Designer. With this tool and my original FFU that I had kept from my past 8.1 upgrade, I was able on the first attempt to re-image my Lumia 920 and recover it, fully functional. The system does even go to the Windows Store and re-install most of your apps after your link and login your phone with your Live.com account. It did also proceed to download the latest 8.1 updates and install them without any hiccups. All my Noka Here apps where back and working again. The only thing that I lost in the process were a couple of application data that I thought had been automatically backed up on my OnDrive account, but turned out not to be the case.. not the end of the world, but reminds me to check this before I try another upgrade the next time.
It is only after I experienced the whole process that I went on to the Microsoft Insider forums to read on about other user’s problems with the TP10 upgrade and roll-back… Partially It was to provide a feedback too myself to Microsoft, and also to realize that I was not the only one that had severe issues in the upgrade process, and that Microsoft needs to work very hard to fix all those problems before they are going on GA for WP10.
If you have a week-end to kill and it’s rainy outside, and you own a Windows Phone device, go and try it… I think the new OS is a nice evolution of the system, but it’s just not ready for prime-time yet.
Until Next, have a great time.