Verizon finally updating Icon to Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft's flagship Lumia Icon Windows Phone on Verizon is getting long-awaited operating system and firmware updates.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

A year after launching the flagship Windows Phone Lumia Icon, Verizon is finally enabling users to run the latest version of the Windows Phone operating system.

On February 11, Verizon is on tap to begin pushing the Denim update, which includes the Windows Phone 8.1.1 operating system and related firmware, over the air to users on the Verizon network. Users who don't want to wait these last few hours can manually update their Icons to Denim using the Software Recovery Tool, as @Spacey02 noted via Twitter. For instructions (and cautions) about doing this, see this post on Thurrott.com.

Microsoft released to phone OEMs the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system almost a year ago. Since that time, the company has shipped a number of new handsets running Windows Phone 8.1, as have its various partners.

Windows Phone 8.1 includes support for Microsoft's Cortana digital personal assistant; a notification center; and a variety of new enterprise-focused features.

Windows Central reported last night that Verizon had posted a five-page PDF to its site detailing the changes coming to the Icon (also known as the Lumia 929) with the Denim update.

Microsoft officials told Icon users late last year that they should expect Denim to arrive in "early 2015." Microsoft, phone OEMs and carriers began pushing the Denim firmware to users at the end of 2014.

Denim includes a number of imaging/camera features, including camera quality and speed improvements; a new "Moment Capture" feature for 4K video recording on some of the higher-end Lumia phones; and support for new imaging algorithms, providing for crisper photos in daylight or low light. These imaging/camera enhancements are specifically for Lumia 830, Lumia 930, Lumia Icon, and Lumia 1520 models.

Denim also adds, as promised, live folders, SMS merging and voice activation for Cortana.

Nokia launched the Lumia Icon exclusively on Verizon in February 2014. The launch gave those of us Windows Phone users on Verizon hope that Microsoft/Nokia and Verizon had begun smoothing out their rocky relationships. But since that time, unfortunately, it doesn't seem like much has really changed.

The news of Verizon's launch of Denim comes just ahead of Microsoft making available the first preview test build of its Windows 10 mobile operating system. Denim is not a prerequisite for Windows 10 mobile, Microsoft officials have said.

For other Windows Phone users still awaiting OS and firmware updates, here's Microsoft's schedule as to when to expect Lumia models on different networks around the world to get those bits. Denim won't be available on non-Lumia phones, but some of the feature improvements in that update will be.

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