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Universal Office Apps Debut on Windows 10 Mobile Test Build

Microsoft on Thursday released the first technical preview build of Windows 10 for smartphones that includes support for touch-optimized Office apps.

Build 10080 of Windows 10 Mobile is now available to "fast ring" testers enrolled in the Windows Insider program, announced Gabe Aul, chief of the Windows Insider program at Microsoft, in a blog post.

Universal Office apps comprise touch-first versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote designed specifically for Windows 10. The Outlook app already appeared in an earlier Windows 10 Mobile build, but the others are available for the first time in build 10080. The apps are currently in preview, with general availability expected sometime later this year.

Microsoft has previously stated that these Office apps will be free for mobile Windows 10 devices with screens smaller than 10.1 inches. However, the free offer seems to be limited to consumer users, while commercial users -- who may need access to features beyond what the free apps offer -- will require a license.

"[C]onsumers will be able to have core editing, viewing and printing for free on Windows Phones and small tablets with the launch of Windows 10. Commercial customers will need to have a qualifying commercial license," according to Amanda Lefebvre, Office apps program manager, in response to a reader question in this Microsoft blog post from February.

Features and Bugs
In addition to support for Universal Office apps, build 10080 has a number of new features. Besides the current Windows Store, the new build also includes a beta of the redesigned Windows Store designed specifically for Windows 10. The beta version has a couple of limitations, Aul noted, including a lack of carrier-billing support.

Build 10080 also includes a new Camera app, an Xbox app available through the new Windows Store, and preview versions of the Music and Video apps.

This is also the first Windows 10 technical preview build to support a non-Lumia device -- the HTC One (M8).

Aul listed several known bugs with this new build. For instance, devices may fail to alert users of pending MMS messages. "To ensure MMS messages are not lost, be sure to turn cellular data on," Aul said. Other issues include problems with migration, auto-update not being enabled for apps, cellular data connectivity being turned off during upgrade, and Cortana crashing.

Delayed Launch
Microsoft said earlier this week that Windows 10 will have two mobile editions: the consumer-focused Windows 10 Mobile, which will be a free upgrade from Windows Phone 8.1, and the business-focused Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise, which will require a volume licensing agreement.

While Windows 10 is expected to become generally available this summer for desktop PCs and larger tablets, Microsoft indicated last month that the two mobile editions will likely arrive after that summer timeframe. "We're adapting the phone experiences later than we're adding the PC experiences," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Operating Systems Group, at a press event during the Microsoft Build conference in April.

Aul confirmed a later ship date for Windows 10 Mobile in his blog post Thursday.

"Because we're treating Windows more like a service, this allows us to release Windows 10 on different devices and customers at different times," he wrote. "For phones, Windows 10 will arrive later this year -- both on new devices and also upgrades for existing Windows Phone 8.1 devices. Even though Windows 10 will be arriving for phones later than it does for PCs, the underlying OS code is still the same."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.