Windows 10 Mobile Users: Your Options for Getting Early Builds Are Narrowing

Windows 10 Mobile Users: Your Options for Getting Early Builds Are Narrowing

The Windows 10 mobile user base is frustrated as recent release notes indicate a narrowing list of devices to be supported by Microsoft's Windows 10 Creators Update.

This is also not the first time mobile users have seen their devices drop out of official support with a release surrounding Windows 10 Mobile because a similar culling of the hardware occurred when the initial release of Windows 10 Mobile came out last Spring.

According to the blog post for today's PC and Mobile Windows Insider builds released by Microsoft for Redstone 3, only these 13 handsets will be officially supported for the Creators Update when it is released on April 25, 2017:

-- HP Elite x3
-- Microsoft Lumia 550
-- Microsoft Lumia 640/640XL
-- Microsoft Lumia 650
-- Microsoft Lumia 950/950 XL
-- Alcatel IDOL 4S
-- Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL
-- SoftBank 503LV
-- VAIO Phone Biz
-- MouseComputer MADOSMA Q601
-- Trinity NuAns NEO

No other mobile devices will be able to participate in the Redstone 3 Windows Insider Program from this stage.

According to Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider Program, the only way any unsupported devices can continue to run the final Creators Update build on their handset would be to enroll that device in the Release Preview Ring. That will allow them to get cumulative updates for those devices.

This process is very similar to what happened when Microsoft released the first version of Windows 10 Mobile last Spring and several older devices were unsupported as I mentioned earlier. They were able to stay on the last testing build and get those updates over time. It is certainly not the perfect solution because users of those devices would like to keep getting build updates but the time comes when those older devices have to be dropped out of support.

It hurts to rip the bandage off.

One other difference that we were made aware of today with the mobile Redstone 3 build is that it is being developed in a separate development branch called feature2. You can see this when downloading the build onto your eligible device:

Windows 10 Mobile Redstone 3

In comparison, today's PC build for Redstone 3 is from the rs_prerelease branch:

Windows 10 PC Redstone 3

Here is Microsoft's explanation for this difference in build sequencing/branches:

As we release new builds from our Development Branch for PC, we will also be doing the same for Windows 10 Mobile just like we have been in the past. However, Windows Insiders will likely notice some minor differences. The biggest difference being that the build number and branch won’t match the builds we will be releasing for PC. This is a result of more work we’re doing to converge code into OneCore – the heart of Windows across PC, tablet, phone, IoT, HoloLens, Xbox and more as we continue to develop new improvements for Windows 10 Mobile and our enterprise customers.

I wish I could tell you exactly what this means but I can't because I simply do not understand the intricate engineering behind Microsoft's development branches, etc.

However, if social media is any indication, many believe that this variation in build numbers/branches and the very short list of supported devices means the death kneel for Windows 10 Mobile.

I am of the mind to look at it and believe that maybe there is a valid reason for the variance and that once Microsoft has that sorted out they will merge mobile back into the Redstone pre-release branch.

Maybe this could sincerely be related to more work being done on the mobile version of Windows 10 that would allow Microsoft to get more of the desktop features in and running on supported mobile devices.

While many feature have reached Windows 10 Mobile that have appeared on PC during the development of the Creators Update, there are others that have not made their way to mobile. One of the most glaring and obvious is Night Light. Is there some limitation that is preventing that from happening with this move being the effort to finally address it and get things moving forward today?

I guess only time will tell but I leave you with this quote from Sarkar as she was appearing on the Windows Central podcast this afternoon:

"Mobile is about more than the devices you carry around in your pocket"

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But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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