Last year wasn’t exactly cause for celebration for anyone who owns a device running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system.
To be fair, it was a great year for Microsoft. Having firmly established Windows Phone as the world’s third-most popular smartphone operating system, the platform slowly grew and by year’s end had amassed over 200,000 apps. It was also in 2013 that Windows Phone devices finally starting shipping with modern processors.
Nokia’s Lumia 1520 phablet doesn’t just rival the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in terms of screen-size, it’s a solid device that can stand with the Note 3. They both contain Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor. It’s one of the first times Windows Phone has ever really competed with an Android device on specifications alone.
Unfortunately, Windows Phone seriously disappointed users on the software side. With Windows Phone 8.0 out the door most users thought they’d see another large update like the previous updates to Windows Phone. What they end up with was a steady stream of isolated small updates that added tiny features and support for more modern hardware.
To make matters worse users had to wait a bit to receive each of these isolated updates. In fact, some users are still waiting to receive the Windows Phone 8 GDR3 and Nokia Lumia Black updates.
Luckily, relief is on the way. Rumors indicate that Microsoft is preparing to finally release a large-scale update to Windows Phone, dubbed Windows Phone 8.1. Here’s what users need to know about Windows Phone 8.1 so far.
You Won’t Be Getting It Anytime Soon
Windows Phone 8 owners might be exciting about the new features that a full-scale software update could bring. They should be excited. After all, Windows Phone does need some extensive work.
The problem is that users shouldn’t necessarily be as excited about Windows Phone 8.1 right now. Rumors indicate that users should expect the Windows Phone 8.1 update’s features to be detailed during this year’s Mobile World Congress tradeshow in February or Microsoft’s BUILD 2014 event in April.
Even If Microsoft details the software in April, previous updates have taken at months to arrive on user’s devices. Mostly that’s because Microsoft announces updates before they’re finalized. Then they’re required them to submit them to each carrier for testing.
Should Microsoft announce Windows Phone 8.1 it could be May or June before users get it on their devices. Even then most carriers only roll out Windows Phone device updates by specific models.
Expect A Free Update
Microsoft may have taken their time releasing updates last year, but the company did at least take time to assure current Windows Phone users that they’ll be able to update their smartphones for at least two years.
In short, that means that Windows Phone users will get the Windows Phone 8.1 update at absolutely no charge. Of course, Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 devices weren’t upgradable to Windows Phone 8. As such, those users will need to get new Windows Phones to receive Windows Phone 8.1.
So far, that’s really all we know. Leaks of features like a Siri-like voice assistant codenamed Cortana and unified notification system have surfaced but they haven’t been confirmed by Microsoft itself.