HOW-TO: Windows 10 Mobile upgrade


After a long wait and months of delay, the successor to Windows Phone 8.1 is finally available as an official upgrade for selected handsets. While the Windows Insider preview update is available for just about every WP 8.x device out there, the formal release currently limited to:

####Phones and devices that can upgrade to Windows 10:

Lumia 1520, 930, 640, 640XL, 730, 735, 830, 532, 535, 540, 635 1GB, 636 1GB, 638 1GB, 430, 435, BLU Win HD w510u, BLU Win HD LTE x150q, MCJ Madosma Q501

If your device is not included in the list, you can still go for the Windows Insider program and get access to basically the same version of the operating system. It is also worth noting that currently Microsoft is not pushing the update to the devices. Instead they are offering it as opt-in. You need to grab the Update Advisor from the store, and proceed from there.

In most cases you could just run the Update Advisor (or Windows Insider) app and follow the instructions and you should be fine. There may be slight annoyances, like couple of missing tiles from the home screen. Note that the update takes quite some time and involves reboots, so make sure that you wont be needing the phone anytime soon when you start the update. Your battery needs to be highly charged as well to proceed - best practice is to have it plugged in.

I however know for a fact that the Windows Phone/Mobile updater is not rock solid. This is especially true if your device has gone through several updates cycles. So while the straightforward update approach seems tempting I recommend to do the following:

####The quicker way

Precondition: Check for any Windows Phone 8.1 updates, making sure that you are running the latest.

  1. Make sure all your data is backed up and/or stored in the cloud. Ensure that you have your personal Microsoft and other account passwords written down and handy.
  2. Install and run the updated app (Advisor, or Insider)
  3. Follow and complete the update procedure
  4. In Windows 10 - Perform a factory reset ( Settings System > About > Reset your phone)
  5. Setup your phone from scratch.
  • You still own all the apps you have purchased from the store before, but you have to reinstall everything.

####The full monty method

  1. Make sure all your data is backed up and/or stored in the cloud. Ensure that you have your personal Microsoft and other account passwords written down and handy
  2. Download and install Windows Device Recovery Tool to a Windows PC.
  3. Flash your device with the latest Windows 8.1 firmware using the Recovery Tool
  4. Boot and configre your device
  5. Follow the steps of The quicker way

At the time of writing this it is not clear whether the Windows 10 firmwares will be made available to the recovery tool, or will this be an update-only approach. If they do, then that is definitely the best approach to getting Windows 10, rather than updating from Windows 8.1

Wiping the device clean makes sure you don’t have any harmful left overs in your device, that could potentially impact the operation of Windows 10 Mobile. This is especially relevant if you are updating an older device, that has already received one or more Windows 8.x update cycles. For example the older Lumia 920/925/1020 -series of devices can be updated via the Windows Insider program and at least from performance perspective they run Windows 10 very well - their hardware is much more powerful than the later 640(XL) models, which are officially supported.

Thats it! I hope you enjoy your refreshed Windows Phone device! Things to expect include:

  • A better browser, Mail and Calendar
  • Modernized mobile Office apps
  • More visual customization options
  • More stuff in the notification drawer…


####Some updates:

  • Note that the Windows 10 upgrade comes in two phases in both, Upgrade Advisor and Windows Insider Release Preview ring.
  • First you get the rather old 10568.107 build
  • But when you check again after the upgrade, the latest version is being offered (10568.164 at the time of writing this)
  • So make sure you go through both update cycles!
  • In addition to the Windows OS upgrade, there will be a ton of application upgrades delivered via the store.
  • Especially on older hardware the Store seems to choke on the large number of updates, so patiently observe that all apps are upgraded. Retries may be necessary. Note that in Windows 10 many core features of the phone are now updated via the store.
  • For Lumia 1020 you must grab the old Lumia Camera app from the store. The new replacement camera app does not properly support the monster 41Mpix camera.

I am currently testing the Windows 10 Mobile on Lumia 930 (officially supported) and a Lumia 1020 (support dropped). On both devices my experience has been similar. In general the Windows 10 works OK, but at this point it seems that it is not as rock stable as the 8.1. Windows 10 Mobile still slightly premature, as is the PC version too The device may seem slightly slower than before, but the new Edge Browser on the other hand is a lot snappier.