Microsoft started rolling out Windows 10 Mobile today on a limited number of Windows Phone 8.1 devices. The devices getting the upgrade include: 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.
Unlike Google, Microsoft has taken responsibility for upgrading all Windows devices. However, the company’s track record on smartphones updates seems to be spottier than its PC ecosystem. Significantly, fewer than half of all the Windows Phone 8.1 devices out there seem to have gotten on the list for the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade. In fact, it’s mostly just Microsoft's own Lumia devices that got it.
With a few exceptions, such as the Lumia 530, 630, and 830, all of which are from 2014, it seems all Lumia devices with Windows Phone 8.1 are covered. However, those devices from Acer, Alcatel, Archos, Allview, Cherry Mobile, Karbonn, Lava, LG, HiSense, Xolo and other lesser known brands don’t seem to have made the cut for the upgrade. That’s despite the fact that they use the same chips as the Lumia phones getting Windows 10 Mobile right now (mainly Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and Snapdragon 400).
Surprisingly, HTC’s M8, which made the news when it was launched with both Android and Windows Phone 8.1, and was even praised for its battery life at the time, didn’t make the cut either. HTC hasn’t been doing that well financially lately, but one of the main selling points of Windows Phone for manufacturers was that they wouldn’t have to pay for the development of updates anymore, because Microsoft would handle that.
It’s not clear why so many non-Lumia devices were excluded from the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade. Perhaps all of those manufacturers had to pay extra to get the new upgrade, and they didn’t think it was worth it for those phones anymore. However, if that’s the case, then the Windows Mobile ecosystem isn’t that much better than the Android one.
If OEMs can “opt-out” of updates in the Windows Mobile ecosystem the same way they do in the Android ecosystem, even though it’s Microsoft that handles the updates, then consumers are no better off. If Microsoft is serious about upgrading its Windows smartphones, then it needs to get OEMs to pay up front to ensure at least two years of upgrades.
Whoever was at fault here, the message consumers are getting is that if you want a Windows Phone, then you should buy a Lumia from Microsoft. This may be preferable to Microsoft at first, but it also means other smartphone OEMs will be disincentivized to bother with Windows Mobile in the future.
If you’re one of those lucky enough to be eligible for the upgrade, you can go to the store, install the Update Advisor, and then check to see if the update is available.
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu.