Microsoft has launched an updated preview of its Microsoft Launcher on Android. If you’re a keen Windows 10 fan using an Android smartphone – as Microsoft itself now encourages its biggest supporters to do – this is the most Windows-like experience you’re able to enjoy right now.
Launcher 6.0 is one of the biggest overhauls in the software’s history. It features new icons, redesigned widgets, and a landscape mode. According to Microsoft-obsessed blog ALumia, the launcher has rewritten the activities area, apps list, dock, and search UI.
Like Android 10, it includes new light and dark modes so you can continue to use your smartphone after the sun has set without burning your retinas. Handsets with OLED panels will also get a battery boost from dark mode.
And it’s not just about the appearance, either. Microsoft is bragging that its reworked Launcher offers better memory performance too. Launch speeds and smoother animations should also result in the large swathes of the launcher that have been rewritten in this latest incarnation, Microsoft touts.
Interestingly, the new Microsoft Launcher 6.0 looks astonishingly familiar to the homescreen pictured on the Surface Duo – the dual-screen smartphone that Microsoft revealed last year, purportedly set to launch worldwide at the end of 2020. It seems pretty like the Surface Duo, which is already confirmed to be running Android and will offer access to everything in the Google Play Store, will ship with the same experience we’re seeing with the Launcher 6.0 right now.
So, if you’d like a taste of the future from Microsoft, Launcher 6.0 is available to download right now.
Microsoft has released the new software as a standalone app in the Play Store. That’s because Launcher 6.0 is still very much a work in progress – it’s missing a number of the features that are available in the previous iteration. As such, Microsoft is keeping the old Launcher around while it works to bring 6.0 up to speed.
Microsoft explains: “This version only contains a subset of the standard features from the main app. You may wish to search for and download our primary “Microsoft Launcher” app on Google Play for the most reliable and complete experience.”
If you’re already rocking a Surface Laptop, or Surface Pro – and cannot wait to get your hands on the Surface Duo (the first Microsoft-designed smartphone since the heady days of the Microsoft Lumia range) then the Launcher 6.0 could be a good way to add some of the distinctive Redmond-tinged flavour to your handset.