It's time for Microsoft to push Windows 10 Mobile to 8.1 devices

Lumia 930
Lumia 930 (Image credit: Windows Central)

In March of 2016, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 Mobile would finally be coming to select Windows Phone 8.1 devices. That was great news, because it meant developers could finally start building their Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps for phones and there would be less need to cater to the older Windows Phone 8.1 app module. Unfortunately, Microsoft decided to make the Windows 10 Mobile update "opt-in" via an app that you have to download in the Store, meaning the vast majority of people still using Windows Phone 8.1 didn't actually get the update.

Most Windows Phone 8.1 users didn't go out and get that update because most people using Windows Phone don't really care, and they likely didn't even know Windows 10 Mobile was available in the first place. Microsoft did no advertising to inform users that they could opt-in to download Windows 10 Mobile, and the Windows Phone 8.1 Store itself didn't even promote the app to the front page. The only way you would have even known about the availability of the update was is if you were a fan who was paying attention.

What this means is that few Windows Phone 8.1 users actually upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile, which as a result meant developers felt no reason to switch to UWP. That's why we still see several Windows Phone 8.1 apps continue to be updated on Windows 10 Mobile even to this day. What's worse, an entire year has passed since Windows 10 Mobile became available, and that's an entire year that many users have still been using Windows Phone 8.1, because they don't know that a Windows 10 Mobile upgrade is waiting for them.

Onus is on Microsoft to push Windows 10 Mobile update

At first, I assumed Microsoft made Windows 10 Mobile an opt-in upgrade because there were still several issues and bugs that needed to be ironed out. In that case, making the upgrade opt-in was a smart idea as a temporary measure. But I wasn't expecting the update to still be an opt-in experience an entire year later. Microsoft is about to release the second big-ish update to Windows 10 Mobile, that as I wrote about recently makes the platform feel the best it ever has. Now is the perfect time to open the floodgates and begin pushing Windows 10 Mobile as normal via Windows Update.

The Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update runs surprisingly well on older devices

Microsoft can't rely on users to install the update themselves, so it should just roll it out like any other normal Windows Phone 8.1 update. That's what Microsoft's own Upgrade Advisor app does anyway. You just have to manually press a button for it to do so. It's time for Microsoft to remove that step, and have the phone automatically pick up Windows 10 Mobile, to get the remaining Windows Phone 8.1 users away from the three-year-old platform.

Another good reason to start pushing Windows 10 Mobile now is that Windows Phone 8.1's support timeframe expires this summer, meaning the majority of Windows Phone users left will soon be running an OS that's no longer supported by Microsoft. The time is now to start pushing Windows 10 Mobile, with the Creators Update.

Here in London, I often see Windows Phones all over the place. I see Lumia 640s, 930s, even the 735, and on the rare occasion a 950 and 550. However, you know what's wrong with the Lumia 640s and 930s that I see on the street? They're still running Windows Phone 8.1, not Windows 10 Mobile, an update that has been ready for them for more than a year. I know Microsoft isn't really focused on the Mobile OS right now, but it should at least help developers by getting the last few people off of Windows Phone 8.1 and onto Windows 10 Mobile.

What do you think? Is the Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update a good place for Microsoft to begin pushing Windows 10 Mobile as an OTA update to the remaining and eligible Windows Phone 8.1 users?

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads