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Windows 10 Mobile

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Complete guide to Windows 10 mobile features, apps and devices
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Windows 10 Mobile is Microsoft’s operating system for handheld devices; the mobile OS follows Windows Phone 8.

The operating system, which replaces Windows Phone, is designed as a step towards the unification of Windows desktop and mobile systems. Windows 10 Mobile, like Windows Phone, uses a Metro-derived user interface similar to the tile-like UI introduced with the desktop systems. The phone’s home screen resembles the start menu for recent Windows desktop systems.

Like the later versions of Windows Phone, Windows 10 Mobile includes Cortana, a virtual assistant based on a synthetic intelligence (SI) character in the Halo video game, for voice-activated features. Cortana, the counterpart to Apple’s Siri, has also been added to Windows 10 desktop. With cross-platform integration of the assistant, appointments, reminders and notes remain consistent across desktops and devices.

Windows 10 Mobile also includes typical smartphone features: A software keyboard, threaded messaging, Internet Explorer (IE), voice recognition software and the Bing search engine. For searching and downloading apps, music, videos and podcasts, users can go to the Windows Phone marketplace.

With a more unified codebase and shared APIs, software applications written in the Windows 8 or Windows 10 codebase can run not just on a Windows PC, but also on a Windows tablet, smartphone, smartwatch or XBox. These cross-platform programs are referred to as universal apps. The cross-platform functionality reduces effort for developers and allows them to reach a larger market. For the consumer, the result may be increased variety, better integration and more useful apps. For Microsoft, the result may be an increased mobile market share.

Like users of Windows 7 and 8 desktop operating systems, Windows Phone 7 and 8 users can upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile free of charge.

See a quick Windows 10 Mobile technical preview:

This was last updated in August 2015

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