Microsoft has officially unveiled the next version of Windows Phone mobile operating system – Windows Phone 8.1 – At Build, an annual developer conference that Microsoft holds every year, in San Francisco. The new version brings a lot of new features and improvements to the OS to make it more competitive with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Microsoft also announced the new hardware partners like Prestigio and Micromax that should help the company penetrate those valuable developing markets. Micromax, the Indian company will make affordable smartphones running on Windows Phones.
Windows Phone 8.1 adds a large number of features to the OS, including a notification center called Action Center and a virtual assistant called Cortana. Microsoft brings its own virtual personal assistant called Cortana. She completely replaces the standard Bing search interface in Windows Phone. She can make calls and send messages, as well as briefs your reminders. Microsoft is all set to compete against Apple’s SIRI and Google Now with its virtual assistant Cortana on Windows phone 8.1.
Windows Phone 8.1 also adds Action Center, users can invoke by swiping down from the top of the screen. Users can view and dismiss your email and social notifications as well as manage WiFi and Bluetooth connections from the Action center. In Addition to these main features, the latest version also brings home screen improvements, better app store, Internet Explorer 11, sense apps, updated lockscreen and custom tile backgrounds. Windows Phone 8.1 will add several security-related features for enterprise users including support for VPN.
The Windows Phone 8.1 update will be officially released in a few months. Windows Phone 8.1 will be available to existing Windows Phone 8 smartphone users in the coming months. Windows Phone 8.1 will be pre-installed on new devices that could hit as soon as the end of April or in early May. If you are registered Microsoft developer, you will be able to get an early glimpse on the update as early as April 10.
It’s not specified which WP8 handsets will be treated to the update at this point, but Microsoft will be updating all Lumia devices that are running Windows Phone 8 to the next version.
Update: Nokia confirmed that Windows Phone 8.1 is scheduled to be available across the entire Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices as an over-the-air update called Lumia Cyan this summer.