4 April 2014

New Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 8.1 Update and Lumia phones

Microsoft has announced Windows Phone 8.1 and the availability of Windows 8.1 Update at its Build 2014 developer conference.

“The news today shines a light on continued Windows innovation in ways that benefit our customers, partners and developers alike. Our commitment is to make Windows more personal and accessible to individuals, and to ensure a vibrant ecosystem through closer collaboration with our industry partners,” said Terry Myerson, Executive VP, OS Group at Microsoft.

Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 and introduced Cortana, a personal digital assistant. Powered by Bing, Cortana improves over time by asking questions based on your behaviour and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something.

Other new features in Windows Phone 8.1 include Action Center, which complements Live Tiles by showing new activities and notifications at a glance; and Senses, a suite of features that takes the work out of managing data use, storage space and battery life. 

Windows Phone 8.1 also makes it easier for IT professionals to manage devices and for professionals to connect to essential business apps and services with features such as simplified device enrollment, a built-in mobile device management client, S/MIME for encrypted mail and VPN support.

Windows Phone 8.1 will start rolling out to current Windows Phone 8 users over the coming months. It will also come pre-installed on new phones starting this month. Cortana will launch in the US as a beta, in the UK and China in the second half of 2014, and in other countries in 2015. 

Windows 8.1 Update.

Microsoft also announced Windows 8.1 Update, which includes user interface improvements including a more familiar and consistent experience across touch and non-touch devices. Navigating with the mouse and keyboard will feel more familiar and intuitive because there is more consistency with where controls are and how they work, said the company. 

Key features of the update include user interface improvements for mouse and keyboard users, the ability to access the taskbar from any screen and pin Windows Store apps to the taskbar alongside desktop apps and favorite websites, as well as performance and compatibility enhancements to Internet Explorer 11. Windows 8.1 Update offers improved Internet Explorer 8 compatibility on Internet Explorer 11, extends mobile device management functionality, and eases deployment with increased predictability for new operating systems and line-of-business apps by leveraging familiar management tools.

Current Windows 8.1 customers will receive the Windows 8.1 Update for free through Windows Update, while Windows 8 customers will receive the update free through the Windows Store, beginning April 8, 2014.*

Nokia also used the conference as a springboard to launch three new Lumia smartphones for Windows Phone 8.1, including the flagship Lumia 930, the affordable Lumia 635 and the first dual-SIM Lumia 630.

*Internet connection fees may apply.

*Images from Microsoft.