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Windows Phone News

While Microsoft's FY2016 Q2 earnings have been exceptionally high and beating most expectations, their phone division was hit hard. None of that should be surprising for reasons we covered yesterday, but at least, we have an idea of just how bad things are for mobile.

Microsoft reported a 49 percent drop in devices revenue from the last quarter. That brings the number to an estimated 4.5 million Lumias sold for the quarter down from the 10.5 million Lumias from one year ago.

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In 2016, the Nokia Lumia 520 is still the most popular Windows Phone worldwide and that's not a good sign. Other budget phones like the Lumia 535 and Lumia 640 have failed to recapture that magic. The Windows Phone landscape looks to have peaked in 2014. All of this is revealed in the January 2016 AdDuplex report of Windows Phone usage.

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Recent and forthcoming changes to the Windows Insider program will let users grab new firmware directly from Microsoft. The changes will prevent users from having to restore and reflash their devices to get necessary hardware fixes and optimizations. While the process will be automated in the "coming weeks" for now Insiders can opt for a Production ring via the Insider app.

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Microsoft may be readying not one but two OS updates today. Recently, we reported that build 10586.71 was being prepped for release today and over the weekend some eagle-eyed people even spotted it on Microsoft's servers.

Now, we hear that build 10586.75 may be pushed soon after the .71 update rolls out. This update would only apply to the PC release of Windows 10 for consumers.

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A new bug has been discovered by some users on Windows 10 Mobile build 10586.63. The issue causes excessive cellular data usage and it may be linked to the Messaging backup and sync feature. The problem seems to only affect those on the Windows Insider program and not the production release of Windows 10 Mobile build 10586.29.

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On Tuesday, January 26 Microsoft is expected to update Windows 10 for PC to build 10586.71 via a cumulative patch for fixes and optimizations. This update will be for non-Insiders. Windows 10 Mobile users on the Insider Fast Ring may also see the same update in attempt to improve that experience as well.

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Microsoft is expected to announce the business-orientated Lumia 650 relatively soon, but software issues are pushing the date back even further. Recently, Windows Central revealed that Microsoft was set to announce the Lumia 650 on February 1 through their official blog. Presumably, the availability of the device was very close to that low-key announcement, but now plans have changed.

Sources close to the matter have told me that the date has been pushed back until sometime in mid-February with no specific day yet set. The delay is reportedly due to some last minute software/firmware issues that were found. As to why such a scenario would delay the announcement, it is not too clear. However, if Microsoft were planning to align the statement with immediate availability of the new phone e.g. direct purchase online, such a delay could make sense.

If mid-February is the new timeframe, it casts even more doubt on Microsoft having any significant presence at Mobile World Congress, which kicks off February 22 in Barcelona. Instead, as we noted earlier, the Lumia 650 will be announced with little fanfare, and that still looks to be the case.

Laser cutting

Additionally, I can add that the Microsoft used laser cutting for the metal edge of the Lumia 650. The effect of laser cutting is the band's metal is matte on the sides, but shinier on the edges. Of course, such a high-quality feel will only cast more doubt on why the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL could not have had the same attention to design and detail. One thing is clear: the Lumia team's efforts on this generation of phones were more diverse and sporadic.

More layoffs and 'the last Lumia'?

I hear there may be more layoffs in the Lumia division as Microsoft continues to walk back the purchase of Nokia's mobile division. To counter the layoffs the group under Panos Panay is reportedly actively hiring for mobile. This rebalancing seems to confirm the phasing out of the Lumia brand. However, that is pure speculation at this time.

Let me address the phrasing many sites have taken that the Lumia 650 is "the last Lumia" for Microsoft as in forever. The only thing I have heard is the Lumia 650 is the only Lumia in development and planned for release for this year. Whether or not Microsoft will have new Lumias later in 2016 or early 2017 or revise the brand is unknown. To my knowledge, there are no other Lumias in the pipeline and the Lumia 650 completes the Nokia portfolio acquired when Microsoft bought their mobile division.

Note, however, that Lumia does not mean Windows Phone. Microsoft is actively developing a new mobile phone for late 2016, with the Surface team led by Panos Panay taking the charge. Panay took over mobile hardware in the end of July, so none of that is news or surprising. What that device will look like, feature, or even if it will see the light of day remains to be seen and is Microsoft's more pressing challenge.

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Want to add some color to your Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL for just a few dollars? We review the knock-off replacement covers from China and are impressed (for what we get). While they may lack Qi and NFC (you can add them yourself) the covers are not bad for just $4 a piece. Here is our video hands-on and initial thoughts!

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