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Microsoft is allowing Windows Insiders to test its Messaging Everywhere feature that lets people send and receive text messages on Windows phones and PCs. The feature strips Skype integration from the messaging app.
Microsoft has pushed out a new version of Windows 10 Mobile for those enrolled in the company's Insider program. This build continues to refine the platform's core features and performance, but it also adds a significant new tool that will help Microsoft catch up to Apple and Google in the messaging space.
Windows Insiders in the Fast Ring can now download and install Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 14327. The system update can be installed over the air. This is not a stable, or a public release; rather, it is a preview of a build that's almost ready. That means it may have some bugs, and in fact Microsoft calls them out in a blog post.
The most significant aspect of build 14327 is the addition of Messaging Everywhere. This feature allows users to send text messages from both their phone and their PC. Messaging sent from the PC will look like a regular text message to recipients.
Several steps are needed to activate Messaging Everywhere. First, users must sign into their Microsoft account on both the phone and PC. On the phone, users need to turn on the "Send texts on all my Windows devices" feature. On the PC, users need to select the phone through which the messages are sent. This is managed in the settings of the desktop Messaging app.
Microsoft says it hopes Windows Insiders will test this feature and provide feedback via the Feedback Hub. It's important to note that this build of Windows 10 Mobile strips Skype integration from the Messaging app on handsets. In its place, Windows Insiders will eventually see the Skype UWP Preview app. Microsoft says Insiders can restore Skype to their phone by re-downloading it from the Microsoft Store.
Apple's iMessage allows iPhone and Mac users to send messages from either device. So, too, does Google Chat allow Android and Chrome users to send messages from their smartphone or Chrome. Skype has provided a similar functionality for Windows users for some time, but adding support for standard text messages is a welcome update for Windows PCs.
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Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 14327 also adds several new languages to Cortana. Microsoft says Cortana now understands Mexican Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Canadian French. Windows Insiders can now speak to Cortana in these languages, though Microsoft says these are early versions of each language that will continue to improve with user feedback.
The build resolves a handful of bugs. Microsoft said it fixed an issue that causes some phones to remain dark or become unresponsive when the power button is pressed. It repaired a problem that disabled the "enter" and "spacebar" on the keyboard, and addressed an issue that prevented diverse emoji characters from being deleted from text boxes in certain scenarios. Other fixes targeted autocorrection, the Glance screen, and tethering via Bluetooth.