Moving back to Windows Phone 8.1

Moving back to Windows Phone 8.1

Last Friday, I gave up on Windows 10 Mobile (build 10512). The new version of the O/S, which is still very much in beta, had been running on my Lumia 1020 for the last month and had become increasingly unstable. Frequent reboots were necessary to restore normal service and performance was so slow at times that I wondered whether Windows 10 Mobile was wading through treacle. Battery life was another issue and the phone behaved like one of those warming bricks used by climbers and hill walkers to keep their digits toasty. I was an unhappy camper.

I guess I should have taken more notice of the warnings flagged about the release, but I am an eternal optimist when it comes to installing new versions of software. It’s a flaw in my character.

Things were not helped by the universal version of Outlook that comes with Windows 10 Mobile. I really tried to get to like this software but failed utterly. It is slow (like the rest of the O/S), exits on a frequent basis, and behaves in a way that I think is odd at times. For example, when you delete a message, I want to see it gone as it’s a pretty good indication that I am no longer interested in it. But although the message is moved to Deleted Items, it remains in the conversation view to which the universal Outlook is so attached.

Gabe Aul’s latest blog on Windows 10 Mobile gave me no confidence that the situation would be much better in the near future and after a period of vacation I am about to go on the road again, not least for the IT/DEV Connections conference in Las Vegas, and I didn’t want to have to struggle with a flaky phone.

Fortunately, I had a copy of the Nokia Software Updater for Retail program on my PC. You can also use Microsoft’s Windows Phone Recovery Tool to restore an earlier version (see instructions here). As you can guess from its name, the Nokia utility is intended for use in retail stores when people bring in phones that have “bricked” or otherwise become unresponsive. It’s not the most beautiful program I have ever used, but it is effective.

Basically, the phone is wiped and reinitialized with a brand new version of the operating system. All personal data is removed, so it’s good to have a recent backup to hand so that it can be restored afterwards to replace the programs that you have on the phone. Photos taken on the phone are backed up to OneDrive and I didn’t have anything else present that could not be downloaded after the phone was rebuilt.

Reinstalling Windows Phone 8.1 took 15 minutes to complete. Your mileage might vary depending on what you have to download and the speed of your connection. After 8.1 was installed, a second update was needed to bring the phone up to date. In addition, all of the apps had to be downloaded from the Windows Store, email accounts set up, and passwords and other settings configured to make the apps work. The whole process took me about an hour, most of which I passed looking at TV waiting for processes to complete.

Apparently a new build of Windows 10 Mobile is due this week. I will go back to Windows 10 Mobile, but I think I’ll wait for now. The 1020 is now performing superbly (like a Windows PC, a wipe and load often aids performance) and anyway, retrofitting new software on an old warhorse might not be the best strategy. Maybe I’ll move when one of the new Lumia phones are available. The Talkman model (Lumia 950) seems interesting, but I will wait for the formal announcement to decide.

Follow Tony @12Knocksinna

TAGS: Office 365
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