Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 preview due week of August 4

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 preview due week of August 4

Summary: Microsoft will make the first update to Windows Phone 8.1 available to developers the week of August 4. Here's what to expect in that update, feature-wise.

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On July 30, Microsoft officials took the wraps off the first update to the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system.

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A developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 Update -- as Microsoft execs curiously have christened what is expected to be the first of several updates to its phone OS -- will be available some time during the week of August 4. The odd naming convention isn't a first; the Microsoft Operating Systems Group also decided to call the first update to Windows 8.1 "Windows 8.1 Update," despite the fact there will be a second update to that operating system, most likely on August 12.

(In the spirit of attempting to reduce confusion, I'm just going to call this Windows Phone 8.1 release "Update 1.")

The expected gesture-recognition technology that would have allowed users to hover over elements in Windows Phone 8.1 (rather than having to click on them) didn't make it into Update 1. Microsoft officials won't say when or even if they expect this technology to come to Windows Phone, but from what I hear, it's not dead and is still in the works.

That said, a bunch of new features, many of them somewhat minor, did make it into Update 1. With Update 1, apps can be organized into folders on the Start screen. There's a new live tile for the Windows Phone Store. Users can select multiple SMS messages, making text-message management easier.

There also are a couple of more meaty features in Update 1. Microsoft is turning on "consumer" VPN in this update, allowing users to connect to VPNs over Wi-Fi. (Enterprise VPN functionality was built into Windows Phone 8.1.)

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Another of the bigger new features in Update 1: A new Apps Corner hub (somewhat similar to Kid's Corner) allows users to specify which apps are displayed in a special "sandboxed" mode that allows restrictions on which apps can be used. Businesses can use this feature to allow access to a certain app or apps without needing a full mobile-device-management product. Apps Corner is good for setting up retail demos or enabling scenarios where devices boot straight into a specific custom app

Microsoft also is updating the Xbox Music app simultaneously with the Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 release. As part of this update, it is bringing back features that were missing from the Windows Phone 8.1 developer preview, such as background syncing of users' music collection and swipe to advance. 

Other Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 features which leaked earlier this week via OEM documentation are part of the release, too. Among them: Smart case support; qHD screen resolution (960 X 540); and Voice over LTE (VoLTE); and overall performance enhancements.

Those running the Windows Phone 8.1 developer preview should be able to download Update 1 next week. Those with the final version of Windows Phone 8.1 installed should be getting Update 1 from their carriers "in the coming weeks," Microsoft officials are saying.

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Windows Phone

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Nice

    This is a much more substantial update than I was expecting! Last year's GDR updates were more about enabling new phone hardware which brought very little to older devices, but this seems to have a lot more in the way of general features.
    Biggest thing I hope they get around to is the ability to use a real file picker in the native email client. It is annoying to only be able to attach photos to email threads, and I am surprised this has not been addressed yet. Maybe this is an office limitation which will be fixed when the 'touch first' version of office comes to WP next year? Surely they can come up with a fix before that?

    All the same, very glad to see the OS getting decent feature updates every few months now. This is great!
    CaedenV
    • mail attachments

      CaidenV... i was disappointed with simply attaching photos... however if you have the Office hub app you can do it in reverse... open your document in the hub and share with your mail account and type your email... weird huh?
      zubo01
      • Decent workaround

        ... except you can't use that to reply to an email chain already in progress (therefore losing most of the context).

        It's absolutely ridiculous how many updates Microsoft has pushed out without addressing this fundamental issue for business use. The OS finally supports a file picker, and yet barely any apps (including the main, built-in Microsoft ones) use it. Definitely a case where MS needs to lead by example... especially for something as important as email attachments.
        JHoff80
        • Agree...

          I agree. This is very fundamental and many a time I had to reply to the mail chain saying "will send you the document in another mail" :-)
          saijagan
        • Yeah, it's weird

          It's curious how this issue keeps lingering. Or baffling, more like it.
          fawlty70
          • I agree

            I was trying to think of an architectural reason but got nothing. I think the ideal implementation would be to share a onedrive link rather than an attachment where you don't even need to download the file to the phone but it should support old fashioned attachments in a reply too.
            Buster Friendly
    • Other Nice Features

      The one feature that really got my attention was folders for apps. In desktop Windows 8.X the apps is growing and the list of things I use is getting so long it is becoming un-usable. I now go 4 to 6 swipes to find what I want. I would really like folders to be able to better organize them.
      MichaelInMA
  • Get moving AT&T

    For some reason AT&T is super slow get these updates out, and they claim testing is the reason. Apparently they don't test Apple updates they just blast out releases with tons of bugs and then patches follow every month it seems. Windows Phone is generally much more stable but it takes way longer between releases. Would be nice to see consistent semi-annual updates from all carriers.
    Sean Foley
    • Fortunately if you are on the Developer Preview...

      You won't have to wait for AT&T at all. This comes straight from Microsoft
      NC_Prince
      • Yes, you *can* download the Developer Preview...

        ... but then you'll void the warranty on your phone. If you're not OK with that, you have to wait for the carrier.
        kenrockthefirst
        • you can always rolling back and "unvoid" the warranty

          and if the phone is bricked completely then how are they going to even find out that you installed the update?
          vpupkin
          • Yeah...

            ... I'd rather not brick my phone. I'll wait for the carrier to release the update.
            kenrockthefirst
        • Doesn't matter

          If you brick it totally, they don't know what version is inside. If its not totally bricked, you just use Nokias recovery application to install allowed version back. And there is no way phones gets a hardware malfunction from these updates anyway so you are safe.
          Asgardii
      • I had Windows Phone 8.1 and had to go back to 8

        Had to re-flash my 520 in order to access corporate apps using Citrix Xenmobile.
        Would not connect using 8.1. Since everything is working now, hoping then the official update is available I can upgrade and everything still work. I really miss 8.1
        thekman58
        • Well...

          Thats Citrix issue for sure, not WP. And it will not get fixed without Citrix update.
          Asgardii
    • Apple Updates...

      I thought Apple updates come from Apple. In other words, I don't think carriers decide when folks get a new version of iOS. Apple does. I thought it's always been that way and part of why they were exclusive to ATT in the beginning. Apple was very particular about their experience and they wanted to maintain a relationship with their customer. Of course carriers hate this because it reduces them to a pipe. Of course that's the way it should be but that's not as profitable for carriers. If you follow the money you understand why they want to tightly control the devices on their network.
      robradina@...
      • WP updates come directly from Microsoft, but...

        They have to be vetted by the carriers. Apple is able to use it's market weight to push the carriers around (the carriers still test the phones, they just commit to a single date rollout); it's been that way since Jobs and AT&T set up the exclusive contract. No one else gets to push carriers around quite like Apple does (at least in the US).
        Flydog57
        • Microsoft Releases WP update

          to the carriers. I'm STILL waiting for my HTC 8X to update to WP8.1; reading about WP8.1U1 makes me one furiously unhappy camper!
          Crashin Chris
          • Join the Preview For Developers program

            Seriously. It's not a beta program, it's the finished product just rolled out from Microsoft. Just get it and bypass the carriers.
            fawlty70
          • Developer Preview...

            I saw too many negative posts about things being broken on the 920 so I didn't try it. And every site with the repair software led to malware downloads?
            Christopher Moor