(Source: Neowin)
Microsoft is also rumored to be prepping a laptop-smartphone hybrid device and a gaming helmet dubbed "Project B"

Windows 10 by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is expected to become the singular OS for all Windows PCs, as a free upgrade for Windows 8.1 users. When it launches sometime later this year, the OS is also expected to become the operating system of the Xbox One and Windows smartphones (which currently run Windows Phone 8.1).  With public beta testing of Windows 10 on the PC front humming along, a natural question is "how do I test the upcoming OS on my smartphone."

I. Windows 10 For Phones -- Drawing Near, Says Sources

Simply put, the answer is you can't.  Not yet, at least.

But that's about to change, according to reports.  The buzz started when Windows smartphones received a new Microsoft app called "Phone Insider", which replaces the previous "Preview for Developers" app.  The app first leaked in beta form ("Windows Previewer Beta") via Jeremy Sinclair, a Windows Phone developer and XDA forum moderator.

While that app didn't drop any clear-cut signs of an impending Windows 10 preview release for smartphones, it did certainly seem like a step Microsoft would take towards such a rollout.  Rumored titles for the phone variant of Windows 10 included "Windows 10 Mobile" and "Windows 10 for Phones".

Windows 10 for Phones -- Insider Preview
ZDNet's editor Mary Jo Foley always has a close finger on the pulse of Microsoft via her insider contacts.  She reported this week that she was "confident" that her insider sources had the scoop on the release window for this high-interest build -- sometime next month.

She writes:

[T]omorrow will not be the day Microsoft releases the first preview of the mobile version of its Windows 10 operating system, according sources close to Microsoft. Instead, the first public release of the Windows 10 mobile SKU -- which sources have said will work on both Windows Phones and smaller Intel- and ARM-based tablets -- won't happen until some time in February 2015.

Microsoft officials declined to comment on the availability date. But I'm confident the February timing is solid, based on my knowledge of the track record of my sources. I don't know whether Microsoft also will time the release of the next technical preview build of Windows 10 for desktops so that it coincides with the mobile version in February.

Windows 10 for Phones
[Image Source: Neowin]

She also shares details of what the Windows 10 on smartphones means from a technical perspective. Note the move to a common kernel with Windows 8/Windows Phone 8, she notes that Windows 10 takes things much further unifying "dynamic link libraries (DLLs), [the] application platform layer, and other pieces of the operating system."

She says Microsoft is calling the unified codebase OneCore.  While it may only be available for PCs, tablets, and smartphones at launch, she writes that it's expected to "eventually" come to the Xbox One and the large-screen Perceptive Pixel hardware, as well.

Windows 10 cross platform

She writes that a new Office app dubbed "Gemini" will launch for both PCs and mobile devices and will pack a substantially upgraded interface with more touch-friendly options and more power-user features for mobile devices, unlike the current underpowered mobile Office 365 client apps.

II. Microsoft Phone-Laptop Hybrid, Project B Gaming Helmet Rumored for Fall Launch

Also noteable, she clarifies that the OS is only going to be detailed in April 2015, not launch then as some previous reports suggested.  There seems to have been quite a bit of confusion over Microsoft executives, statements, but suffice it to say she says to expect a launch in the "fall", and no sooner.  She writes:

Microsoft execs are expected to talk more about its Windows 10 strategy around mobile devices and phones at the Mobile World Congress in early March in Barcelona. Company officials also are likely to share more about the Universal App and developer plans for the various Windows 10 versions during the company's Build 2015 conference in late April this year. (Registration for Build opens on January 22.)

Microsoft is expected to launch Windows 10 later this fall. But the Windows 10 desktop and mobile SKUs are likely to be released to manufacturing months before the orchestrated fall 2015 product launch.

At its event tomorrow, she says that Microsoft may discuss "Project B", a wearable gaming headset for the Xbox One, which is expected to vie with Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) Morpheus wearable and the third party Oculus VR gaming headset -- a device which was recently purchased by Facebook, Inc. (FB).  She pointed out in a previous blog that Microsoft has been patenting gaming helmet technologies at an agressive pace since 2012, so it wouldn't be surprising to see its finished product coming out soon.

PS4 Morpheus
Microsoft is reportedly prepping "Project B", a gaming helmet to counter Sony's Morpheus wearable HUD.

According to paywalled Silicon Valley insider magazine, The Information, Microsoft also may show off yet more hardware, with a Windows 10-powered smartphone/laptop hybrid that it's been working on.  The report is light on details, but presumably such a device would resemble a more powerful version of ASUSTek Computer Inc.'s (TPE:2357Padfone 2 laptop/tablet/smartphone combo (powered by Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android OS).

ASUS Padfone

Microsoft is also rumored to be prepping a phone-laptop hybrid, similar to the ASUSTek Padfone 2.

Needless to say, it should be an interesting next couple months for PC users and anyone else who is interested in what Microsoft has to offer.

Sources: ZDNet, The Information, via Neowin

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