I have read a lot of those articles as well, from thurrott.com, Windows Central, Winbeta, Ars Technica, etc. I think that there is enough indication that Microsoft is going towards an Intel-based Windows 10 Mobile solution, which will run Win32 applications that can be wrapped and downloaded from the Store (but won't work on ARM-based phones). These would work well with Continuum.
But I don't think that negates the value of the 950 and 950XL (which would predominantly be used for touch-optimized apps), and I'd still rather try to get out of the carrier financing plans. Windows Phone has done well in Europe (latest Kantar numbers puts it at about 10%), and this is because the carrier lock-in isn't like the U.S. or Canada, and these phones depend more on their price/performance. For that reason, and some recent bulk purchases by enterprises (such as the New York Police Department), I don't think Windows Mobile is going anywhere. There will also continue to be a large number of budget Windows Phones around.
If the new phones (perhaps called "Surface Phones") arrive, it'll likely be a few months if not a year or so before I would want to switch again, especially if Windows 10 Mobile gets constantly updated with new features.
I'd rather see Microsoft copy Apple on providing financing for Windows 10 Mobile, and then pair that with a BYOD plan with whatever carrier works best. That's makes so much more sense than putting up with the idea that the carrier approach is best. In the case of Verizon in the U.S., even when they had Windows Phones, there were ridiculous delays in updaing them.
Talked to every carrier store in my local mall today. I think I'm going to stick with my Lumia 920 for another 4-6 months and simply wait for the 950XL to go on sale. The reality is that these phones will not sell in Canada. Microsoft refuses to offer a payment plan at any of its stores (I know because I've called them) and no carrier appears willing to sell them in Canada. So, the phone will be fire-saled very quickly. A lousy business plan for Microsoft, but a boon for those of us who like Microsoft in spite of itself!
At least where I live (the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver), Koodo and Fido look like the cheapest BYOD providers, by the way.
I have been a Windows user from the beginning, and now that I have about 6 pc's on Windows 10, I am perfectly content and would never switch. I throughly enjoyed my Windows 8 phone, and now like others, while eager for something newer, I will NOT be getting the 950 at this time.
As an experiment, I took a spare Samsung Core 4g we had lying around and started learning it's behavior. At first I had a hard time, but I kept at it. I did a factory reset, updated to the latest Android version, made selective use of "live"-like widget apps, a few nested menus, and a alphabetic list of "all" apps. Gotta say, it's not bad at all. Turns out it uses the same type of SIM card as my HTC 8x, so I may just try it out for a bit. The screen size is a tad larger; other specs are not as good...but it may be a nice zero cost option for a while, until other option comes along.
I'm switching to the 950 (or 950XL) precisely because it's unlocked. In the past Microsoft has made it difficult to buy models unlocked (except for a few). Now it's easier-- they're all unlocked, more stores have opened in Canada, and one can always order online.
The main point is that Microsoft is moving to treating smartphones as PCs, and it just makes sense not to be tied to a carrier's updating schedule or limited selection of models.
The trend in the U.S. is for manufacturers to sell unlocked smartphones directly (the rest of the world is already there):
Why do people think being beholden to the carrier overlords is the only path to success for these smartphones?
For me its not the issue of it only being sold unlocked vs subsidized. You pay for the phone either way, whether outright or a bit each month. Sure subsidized is easier on the wallet, but still, Its never free. For me, its not that .. its simply a matter of value. At $960.44 tax in, I no longer see any value in it. Not for a phone in my pocket. Sure some argue its actually a computer in my pocket, but thats not quite valid, as my pocket sdont hold a keyboard and a monitor. I can get 90% of 950 , in other unlocked phones, at a fraction of the price, in a very powerful mobile device. And its much easier to swallow if I ever lose or damage the phone and need to replace it . I think the 950 is a very nice phone, despite its paultry market share, and I can afford it, but I simply dont see the value any longer.
I do think it's better to evaluate the phone on the basis of needs, rather than the carrier financing. However, on a cost basis, there are more expensive phones out there.
I've found great value in the higher end phones because I'm also looking at the high end camera features, GPS, screen size and legibility for reading, great battery life, synchronization with what I'm working on with my PC, and so on. I only very rarely use the phone feature on my Lumia 1020. There are many occasions when I didn't bring my Surface Pro, and I still got the work I needed to get done on my Lumia. There is an app gap, but I've found many substitutes such as using the mobile web versions of services. But equally so I've been in groups where the Lumia 1020's signal strength is the best, and I even dished out Internet Sharing (up to 8 connections)-- so it's also a wifi hotspot router.