At roughly noon, Microsoft's Joe Belfiore (Vice President for Windows Phone) announced via Twitter that users enrolled in the developer preview should check for updates. Microsoft released the Windows Phone 8.1 Update (GDR1) to test, develop against, and enjoy.

If you're not familiar with the preview for developers program, this is Microsoft's way of circumventing the lengthy update roll-out process. Windows Phone vendors (Nokia, HTC, Samsung, etc) first integrate the update with their software stack, send it to regional operators (AT&T, Rogers, etc), and finally the regional operators test, validate and deploy it. Microsoft likely calls it a developer preview to appease these partners, but considering it cost $0 and takes three minutes to sign up, its true role is quite obvious and tech enthusiasts appreciate it.

To briefly recap, Microsoft described that Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 will contain localization and Bluetooth improvements to Cortana, text messaging, mobile IE, enterprise app settings, and a unique approach to folders.

I was particularly curious how the 'live folders' worked. At first I wasn't sure it was working, as the folder doesn't immediately update its tile after creation and instead waits for the contained tiles to update. Therefore, it can take a moment before any movement is seen. I've personally grown used to not having folders, but this implementation which maintains the live updates is appreciated.

I was also curious what user agent string the web browser uses now.

Mozilla/5.0 (Mobile; Windows Phone 8.1; Android 4.0; ARM; Trident/7.0; Touch; rv:11.0; IEMobile/11.0; NOKIA; Lumia 920) like iPhone OS 7_0_3 Mac OS X AppleWebKit/537 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile Safari/537

It is pretty funny seeing iPhone, Android, OS X, WebKit, Apple, Nokie, IE, Trident, the kitchen sink, you-name-it, all in one user agent. Microsoft stated that IE mobile was consistently served non-mobile pages by major web sites like Google and Twitter, so changing the user agent to a mobile catch-all is certainly one way to resolve that.

No software update or Microsoft blog post ever seems to include a complete change list, so there are some extra user-visible improvements found in the update that were unexpected. VPN support previously included SSL VPN and IKEv2, and now grows to include L2TP with IPSec. Cellular data tethering now works over Bluetooth as well as WiFi.

Microsoft posted a Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 change list for OEMs that gives some insight into behind the scenes changes. Larger screen sizes (up to monster 7" devices) are now supported, along with a variety of new mid-tier resolutions. Microsoft added several Bluetooth improvements including higher fidelity audio and network audio video browsing through AVRCP. Dual SIM now supports C + G (CDMA + GSM). Finally, phone cover apps have new settings, although no interactive phone covers exist yet.


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  • theNiZer - Thursday, August 7, 2014 - link

    This is exiting news, thank you for writing it up Stephen Barrett !

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