Windows Phone 8.1, which was officially unveiled at Microsoft’s Build conference a few weeks ago, is now available to developers today. The company detailed the features of the new update, which has proven to be more than just a minor incremental update, at the conference; some of these new features include, among others, the Cortana virtual assistant, a new Action Center for notifications, and a new swipe keyboard.
The developer preview was made available to provide developers some time to test and adjust their apps, if needed, on an actual smartphone running Windows Phone 8.1 before the update is distributed to the general public. Developers will need to either Register as a Windows Phone Developer (for $19 and will include the ability to publish/sell apps on the Windows Store), Register as a developer with App Studio (free, and will allow users to run their created apps on their own Windows Phone devices), or “Developer Unlock” their Windows Phone device.
This doesn’t mean consumers are completely barred from trying out the update early as registering for the preview is free and easy. There are a few things users need to be aware off though before attempting to update their phone to the Windows Phone 8.1 developer preview. Firstly, upgrading to the developer preview will void the device’s warranty. Secondly, the update will only include the Microsoft portion of the update. Any mobile operator or manufacturer specific features, updates, and drivers will not be included in the update. Lastly, once a user updates their device to the Windows Phone 8.1 developer preview they won’t be able to revert back to the previous version of the software.
The new update to Microsoft’s mobile OS is expected to officially launch to the general public for current devices later in the summer. Those who can’t wait can either try out the developer preview or wait until the first set of Windows Phone 8.1 devices come out.
These Windows Phone 8.1-powered devices include the Lumia 630 (available in a single- or dual-SIM variant and available in Asia, India/Middle East, South America and Europe in May), the Lumia 635 (the LTE version of the 630 which will be widely available sometime in May), and the Lumia 930 (expected to start rolling out in June in Europe, Asia, Middle East and India).