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Microsoft's Windows Phone Insider app looks like a sneak peek into Windows Phone 10

Microsoft's Windows Phone Insider app looks like a sneak peek into Windows Phone 10

Microsoft releases a Windows Phone app that offers the chance to download and test early releases of future Windows Phone versions.

We know Microsoft plans to hold a consumer preview of Windows 10 next week. A version of Windows 10 for Windows Phones is en route, too. So is there an app for that?

Very possibly, if you're a Windows Phone owner.

ZDNet and others noted that Microsoft published a "Phone Insider" app over the weekend, which provides "registered users the ability to participate in pre-release phone update programs offered by Microsoft," according to a screenshot of the app itself on the Microsoft site. The site asks users to visit the Windows Insider site, the same site that users can sign up on to provide feedback on the Windows 10 technical preview that has already been released.

Why this matters:  Although Windows Phone 8 (and the 8.1 release, as well as the subsequent Update) have provided significant improvements to the Windows Phone OS, it still stands alone as a separate OS. For the last couple of years, Microsoft has tried to bring the two closer together, with "universal apps" that share a common code base and a unified Microsoft Store. So far, that's been a bit of a challenge, as both Windows 8 and Windows Phone struggle with their own lack of apps.

Wanted: Fresh code

At the same time, Windows Phone insiders have had it up to here with their inability to receive fresh code, whether it be from carriers or from app providers who have released a Windows Phone app, then nearly abandoned it.

What's unclear, however, is how this differs from the "developer" program Microsoft put in place with Windows Phone. That program already allows users to download and opt in to beta versions of the Windows Phone OS, so end users can feel like they're more intimately involved with the future of the platform.

Unfortunately, the Phone Insider app isn't publicly available, though it's listed on the Windows Phone site. If we had to make a guess, we'd say that this will roll out with a technical preview of Windows Phone 10 (The Verge reports that this will take place by the end of the month, which seems reasonable.) It's likely that the Insider app will provide access to the new OS updates, as it says, but also a more sophisticated bug-reporting tool and feedback mechanism for subsequent updates. We called out Microsoft's commitment to customer feedback as one of its success stories for 2014, and this seems very much in keeping with that.

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Tags Windows Phone 10consumer electronicsMicrosoftsmartphonesWindows Phone

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