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Microsoft Launcher 6.0 for Android enters public preview with new UI and more

Microsoft Launcher
Microsoft Launcher (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A new version of Microsoft Launcher is now in preview.
  • It features a new UI and rewrite of several key areas.
  • This is also the Launcher that the Surface Duo will be based on.

Microsoft has released a preview of the next version of its Microsoft Launcher for Android today, which features a rewrite of several key areas, along with a new user interface and features. This new version of the Microsoft Launcher comes in at version 6.0, and is its biggest update yet (via ALumia).

This version of the Microsoft Launcher appears to be what the home screen experience on the Surface Duo will be based on, which means this preview gives us an early look at some of the experiences the Surface Duo will have to offer out of box. It features new icons, widgets, a landscape mode, and a rewrite of the activities area, apps list, dock, and search UI. It also revamped dark and light modes, and Microsoft is touting better memory performance too.

Microsoft Launcher

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Unlike previous beta versions of the Microsoft Launcher, this new preview is its own listing in the Google Play Store, meaning existing Launcher beta testers will need to download this new preview version manually to begin testing it. Microsoft does warn this this new preview version of the Launcher is buggy, with unfinished features and user interfaces.

Download Microsoft Launcher Preview (opens in new tab)

I've been testdriving the new Microsoft Launcher for a little while now, and I think this might be the best version of the Microsoft Launcher yet. It gives us an exciting look into just some of the experiences we can expect to see on the Surface Duo, and works great on existing smartphones today. You can download the preview here. (opens in new tab)

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

80 Comments
  • Microsoft Launcher is about the only thing that makes the switch to Android bearable. Still sucks in comparison to the Windows 10 Mobile tile UI though.
  • Have you tried square home? Has a ton of features and takes forever to make the layout feel amazing but once you get the hang of it it is incredible.
  • I myself am also a big fan of Square home. The developer said a big update was supposed to be coming on this Winter. I'm eagerly awaiting. But I am going to test the new MS launcher and see how I feel about it.
  • Launcher 10 is my Live Tile launcher!
  • I like Launcher 10 , even paid for pro features but it eats up so much memory even my Note 9 struggles with it sometimes
  • It would be great if there was an option for live tiles available for those that prefer this look. After all, it was a one of the most loved features of Windows phone.
  • It was actually one of the most hated features and contributed to it's failure. Even Windows 8 suffered from people's hate of Live Tiles. Microsoft can't run fast enough from them.
  • Yep, that is one of the reason I did not get a Windows phone and also there was no apps available, even for few i use.
    I changed the Windows 10 start menu to a third party because I hate the tiles.
  • "It was actually one of MY most hated features" - FIXED.
    Stop thinking you're the center of the universe. kthxbai
  • why do you think he thinks he is the centre of the universe? He just said he did not likes and that the tiles contributed to failure and I think it did, but not in a big way. the main problem was lack of apps, people did not have the apps they needed, Android and IOS was already on the market and had a big lead. To knock their sales, the MS phone would have had to be something special.
  • There can't be such an option because Live Tiles was an API, not just a UI. Launchers can display tiles but they cannot be Live Tiles because there's no API in Android to support them. There are a number of launchers that do provide Windows-style tiled UI but they may not be as good as something like Microsoft Launcher in other areas. I tried a couple a while back and that was the case then, although they may have improved since.
  • In Android these are Widgets and notifications. I have a Widget that updates the weather forecast for my area right on the home screen and notifications set on home screen apps. I personally find this to be more organized than the notifications in the pull down action centre. But by and large the notifications pull down has replaced the utility of live tiles.
  • I Agree. A live tile option would be cool for those of us who want it.
  • Launcher and the suite of Microsoft Android apps, including Edge and Bing, on a Surface phone sounds like a great device. Zac, are they promising regular updates to the preview version? That might make living with beta software easier.
  • It's easy to switch launchers, even to the old MS Launcher, if you run into bugs. They both can be installed at the same time.
  • Android 10 gesture navigation still missing 🙄😕
  • Is that a bad thing? i hate all this new gesture stuff, i prefer the way i have been navigating a android phone since my first one.
    My p10lite have some gesture system on it, that was disabled pretty quickly and back to the normal way. when I ever get a new phone and if it has Android 10 on, there better be some way to get back to the normal way of navigation
  • Not everyone is a conservative. I love gestures, I couldn't live without them.
  • It is ok if there is a choice, but according to what I have read, Google is pushing them hard on Android 10, so how long will it be before they decide to scrap the normal way of navigating?
    I hate all this one handed stuff, I prefer to keep my phone in one hand and the other hand to access the device, if I am in situation where i can only use one hand, then I am not in a safe situation to use my phone. the only time I will use my phoen one handed is when I have it up to my ear talking to someone on it, I know many people do nto do that sort of thing these days.
  • Works fine here with gesture navigation. Not 100% sold on it yet though. To many bugs at the moment (gesture navigation). I'm on a pixel 3xl with the January patch which enabled gesture navigation for 3rd party launchers.
  • I've been testing the new Microsoft Launcher too. So far so good. The landscape mode look great. As someone above mentioned, let's add a tile option somewhere. This will make it a complete go to launcher for the nostalgic lot.
  • Why would I want a MS launcher on a Android phone?
  • Perhaps because it's a great launcher? 🙄
  • but the one built into my phone is fine.
  • Then don't use it. 🙄🙄🙄🙄
  • You don't have to, it's ok you know. There's a lot of options.
  • Because one of Android's major selling points is customisation and the Microsoft Launcher is one that a lot of people like. Why would you ask such a stupid question? If you don't like Microsoft in general or their launcher in particular or you prefer a stock Android experience then that's fine. You do you. If you're incapable of imagining that other people might want something different though, you've got bigger problems.
  • i think some people think they need something different and then they find that they do not use the device any differently.
    Like those who buy expensive phones, oh look I got a phone that i paid a stupid price for, so what do you do with it? I text and look at facebook and may take the odd photo and use it to phone people , so you do the same thing with your expensive phone that I do with my cheaper phone? Yes, but it is expensive and have all these features I do not use. Not doubt the same thing as the MS launcher, not that it costs anything, but some people just think it is something they need and yet they don't. anyway, I did not say why would anyone want it, I said why would I want it?
    None of you would make very good sales people. Ok, lets put it another way, in what way would it change my life?
  • I think that you're being quite disingenuous. I've seen many instances of people posing "questions" that were clearly more of a statement of disdain than a genuine request for information and then later acting all hurt that people would attack them when they "just asking a question". If someone wanted to know what the potentially beneficial features on Microsoft Launcher are then they would ask the question quite differently. The fact that you said "a MS launcher" it's clear that you were talking generally about Microsoft software rather than this specific launcher. Why does anyone want any launcher other than the default on any phone? Because different people like different things and one of the key selling points of Android is its customisability. Some people change launchers because they want a specific feature and others do it simply because they want something different. Just like a great many people, I use Microsoft Launcher largely because it integrates well with Microsoft services. No one really cares whether you use it or not - no one is trying to sell you anything - but people will care if you imply that there's something wrong with wanting to use it, especially if you then try to pretend that you weren't. I don't know how it would change your life because I don't know what your life is like. If you're happy with your current launcher then stick with it. If you think that you might benefit from something different, look into the options for yourself. Just don't be a dick and expect not to get called out. If you really want people to help you with useful information, ask a genuine question that comes across as such.
  • Because you want to improve as a person.
  • Hopefully a newer version will pick up layouts from Launcher 5.x. For enow I have to recreate my home screens and folders.
  • I wish it had tiles. Until it does I am sticking with my Launcher 10.
  • I'm content with Square Home for now but I do have Microsoft Launcher for trying out new features; until they include the option for tiles on the launcher
  • I'm a Launcher 10 fan, too! I've tried all the other launchers, including the Microsoft launcher, and keep coming back to Launcher 10. I want the live Tiles. All the other launchers just make my S10 look like my old iPhone 3...
  • Ditto, this launcher just seems more of the same
  • The new launcher keeps creating a soon as I try to log into my Microsoft account (Nokia 7.2, Android 9). Is anyone else experiencing the same issue?
  • Sorry... Crashing! (not creating) 🤦‍♂️
  • Nokia 7.2, Android 9, crashes when I try to select Microsoft account (or skip selecting). After crashing a few times, you can report it if you'd like, I just did.
  • Update two weeks later: it's fixed!
  • Hmmm, will load this up on the Fold once I get back home.
  • When you do, don't be silent about it. Let us know if it works well.
  • Anyone figure out a while to import a backup, I looked for like 10 minutes and can't find it. Wondering if its removed on this version, need to read.
  • It's removed on the version. They are starting with select features and move forward to more later.
  • Tried it for a few minutes, and noticed that the primary reasons I use MS Launcher are gone. Among them are: + The ability to move sticky notes to the right-page. It must be on the feed now. + The shortcuts below the dock apps. They're gone now. + The rewards counter up top next to "Good afternoon ________," this is missing, and one must go into the Bing app to find that out now. These few things made me pretty quickly delete the preview app, and go back to my old MS Launcher. We'll see what updates bring.
  • There are many other things that they've removed, such as vertical scrolling option, app drawer widget, editing of individual app icons/names/gestures, the All-Transparent theme. All gone. Please find some time to write some feedback about it, or I'm afraid they'll just leave it as is. Classical Microsoft: 1 step forward, 10 steps back.
  • I've been playing around with it today, and totally agree with you....why do they release this when it has less features than the previous version?
  • Because it's a freakin' preview! What's wrong with you people? It's for people who want to try out new features as early as possible and don't mind living with its limitations. If you do mind the limitations then don't use it. They haven't even replaced the beta with this version yet, never mind the stable release, so why are you even considering using it if a lack of features is a problem?
  • It's an alpha build. A preview in development stages! Not the final version!
  • They said in the statement it's an Alpha build. Not even a beta yet. They have more features coming. Just testing a few at a time.
  • I think a lot of these things have been removed on purpose.
  • That may or may not be the case, depending on the specific case. It's my understanding that they are making significant changes to how some things work, so that might mean that certain features simply won't function until that work is complete. I use vertical scrolling on Microsoft Launcher myself, as I'm sure a great many former Windows Phone users do, so I'd be sorry if that was removed permanently. My guess would be that they haven't currently got that working with the new landscape view, so they removed/disabled that feature until the two can work nicely together.
  • That's why is a preview. MS stated on the beta teams page that it's an "alpha build" with more features to come. Very early build of the new version. Be patient.
  • I like the hidden apps section too. Handy way of not seeing those stock apps that you can't disable.
  • No Vertical Scrolling Option, no App Drawer Widget, No editing of individual App Icons/Names/Gestures, no All-Transparent theme. All gone for the sake of what? Portrait mode? All apps in the "Microsoft" folder are also using outdated icons. In its current form this 6.0 preview is absolutely horrible and the currently released version is far superior. It better not be released in this pathetic state!
  • I have to agree.. It's terrible now, but I know it's only beta and it's just released, so I'll give it time.. But I can't use it like this, so I went back to the original Microsoft Launcher app. I'll just keep an eye on it..
  • It's not even a beta yet. Those whining about missing features at this stage either have no comprehension of what a preview is or have a personality disorder.
  • It's called a preview for a reason. It's less than beta at this time.
  • MS Launcher is a great Launcher. As much as I would like to see an option for Live tiles, the reality is, MS seems to be moving away from them. Regardless of the reason, it's time to let them die and see what knew ways MS can come up with to make the Launcher and Windows 10 UI unique, fluid, gorgeous and natural.
  • Some of the criticism I've already seen on here is a bit much. They call this a 'Preview' for a reason. Of course some things are missing, however there's also some things I've been waiting for a long while now. Relax. It's being rewritten.
  • It's trash. Wunderlist doesn't work with tasks, can't restore my home screen layout from backup, can't have hidden Apps....trash
  • I thought Wunderlist had been replaced? you should be using MS To Do now.
  • I would if to-do had the email to list feature that Wunderlist has. (Send an email to "me@wunderlist.com and it adds to your list) It doesn't. So I cannot move to it
  • Yeah they should really get that on to-do, but most everything else has been improved from wunderlist.
  • Hasn't wonderlist been officially replaced by MS To-do?
  • You misspelled "preview", twit.
  • Tough talk for a loser behind a keyboard. Where do U live?
  • Calling you a twit isn't tough talk. Threatening physical violence on the internet is, but it's also demented.
  • Calling a preview "trash" because some features don't work is rather silly. Expecting all features to work in a preview is insane. Maybe it's just the features that are important to you that you think should be working, given that you clearly believe that you're more important than everyone else.
  • I'll fight you too!
  • Paving the way for a Surface traditional smartphone.
  • I love/hate it. It is very Androidy basic, normal people will probably love it. But I did not like the basicness and already switched back to enjoy the time I left with launcher as it is now.
  • It's a preview. MS dev team for it stated it's a very early build and called it an "alpha build" not even a beta. More features to come. Chill
  • Switched to this new launcher from launcher 10. I have to say I like this new version and may just stick with it.
  • There are no features missing, they simply haven't been included in this particular alpha build. This launcher has been built from the ground up. It is for those who like to try/test new software, so please less with negative comments.
  • Thank you! Everyone should read your comment!
  • But I want everything to be the way I want it to be and I'm important so Microsoft sucks. What they should have done was not release a preview, build everything with no community consultation and then release it as a finished, fully working product. No one would have complained then.
  • Looks nice. Looking forward to it but I'll wait until the full public release.
  • Can you pin apps to a specific spot? I'm not a fan of "most used apps" because it moves the position depending on the usage...
  • They need to remove that ugly white background behind icons first.
  • Why all the hate? It is a PREVIEW build, which means it is early build and not close to launching. I suspect that it will not be released officially until closer to the Surface Duo launch date. So please people stop commenting about what is missing and how this sucks on this comment page and register your thoughts in a place where Microsoft will actually look, their support page, in fact Microsoft even put a app on the home screen to do that.