Windows Phone 8.1

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Windows Phone 8.1
Part of the Windows Phone family
Windows Phone 8 logo and wordmark (purple).svg
WP8.1 Start Screen.png
A customized Windows Phone 8.1 Start Screen
Microsoft Corporation
Latest stable
8.10.12359.845[1] (April 14, 2014) [info]
Source model Closed-source
License Commercial proprietary software
Kernel type Hybrid (NT kernel)[2]
Preceded by Windows Phone 8 (2012)

Windows Phone 8.1, announced at Microsoft's Build Conference in San Francisco, California, on April 2, 2014, is the current generation of Microsoft's Windows Phone mobile operating system, succeeding Windows Phone 8.[3] It was released publicly on April 14, 2014.[4][5][6][7]

All phones currently running Windows Phone 8.0 will be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8.1.[8]


Windows Phone 8.1 was first rumored to be Windows Phone Blue, a series of updates to Microsoft's mobile operating system that would coincide with the release of Windows 8.1. Although Microsoft had originally planned to release WP8.1 during the fall of 2013,[9] general distribution of the new operating system was pushed back until the spring of 2014.[10] Instead of waiting over a year to add new features to Windows Phone 8, Microsoft opted to release three incremental updates to its existing mobile OS. Together, these three updates, which were released in December 2012, July 2013, and October 2013, not only fixed bugs but also added features intended for Windows Phone 8.1, which included the release of DataSense for non-Verizon devices,[11] support for quad-core processors, 1080p high-definition screens of up to six inches, the addition of a "Driving Mode," and extra rows of live tiles for larger "phablet" devices.[12]

The operating system was officially revealed to the public when Microsoft released the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK to developers on February 10, 2014.[5] Within hours of the release, details about the SDK and screenshots were leaked to the public.[13]

The developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 was launched on April 14, 2014. It can be downloaded in a beta version.[4]


Windows Phone 8.1 introduces a host of notable new features, most of which were unveiled in a preview released to developers on February 10.[14]


Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1

Cortana is a personal virtual assistant that was added in Windows Phone 8.1, and is similar to Google Now and Apple's Siri. The Cortana name derives from the Halo video game series, which is a Microsoft franchise exclusive to Xbox and Windows. Cortana's features include being able to set reminders, recognize natural voice without the user having to input a predefined series of commands, and answer questions using information from Bing (like current weather and traffic conditions, sports scores, and biographies).

Cortana also uses a special feature called a "Notebook", where it will automatically gather information about and interests of the user based on usage and allow the user to input additional personal information, such as quiet hours and close friends who are allowed to get through to the user during these quiet hours. Users can also delete information from the "Notebook" if they deem it undesirable for Cortana to know.[15]

Windows 8.1's universal Bing SmartSearch features are incorporated into Cortana, which replaces the previous Bing Search app which is activated when a user presses the "Search" button on their device.[14]

This feature will be released in beta in United States in the first half of 2014 before being publicly available in most other countries by late 2014 or early 2015.


Windows Phone 8.1 adds a mobile version of Internet Explorer 11 as the default web browser. IE11 carries over many of its desktop counterpart's improvements, which include support for WebGL and normal mapping. A new YouTube web player is also included, with support for HTML5 videos and closed captions.[16]

Built-in apps[edit]

Battery Sense adds the ability to track battery usage and determine profiles that will lower power consumption.

Storage Sense lets users move files and apps between their phone's hard drive and a microSD card, and incorporates features previously available in the "Settings" section that gave users the ability to delete temporary files to free up storage and uninstall applications.

Wi-Fi Sense automatically signs in Windows Phones to trusted available Wi-Fi hotspots.[17] Using Wi-Fi Sense, users can also share router passwords and usernames to other devices.[18]

In addition, Microsoft has also revamped the existing Calendar app with a week view and current weather, similar to the Microsoft Outlook calendar available to desktop users.


Building on improvements made in the third update to its predecessor, Windows Phone 8.1 adds support for closing apps by swiping down on them in the multitasking view (invoked by doing a long-press on the "back" button), which is similar to how multitasking operates on Windows 8 and iOS. Pressing the back button now suspends an app in the multitasking view instead of closing it.[19]


Xbox Music and Xbox Video provide streaming services for movies, music, and TV shows, and are separated as opposed to being joined together in previous versions. Notably, Xbox Video now has built-in support for video streaming.[20] In addition to separating its music and video streaming services, 8.1 also adds support for separate volume controls, audio and video transcoding, hardware acceleration, stereoscopic 3D, and the ability for apps to capture and record video independently of the operating system's built-in video recorder. Furthermore, built-in support for streaming through DLNA to monitors and television screens, referred to by Microsoft as PlayTo,[21] is also included, as well as the ability to mirror display from a phone to a separate screen. Media editing tools have also been refined: apps for slow motion video capture, video effects, and audio effects have been added. The stock camera app has been updated with a more minimalist design similar to that of the camera app on Windows 8.1.[20]

Live Tiles[edit]

A third row of live tiles, which was previously available only to Windows Phones with 1080p screens, is now an option for all Windows Phone 8.1 devices regardless of screen size. Microsoft has also added the ability for users to skin live tiles with a background image.[17]


Twitter is more fully integrated into the Contacts Hub.[14]

Lock screen[edit]

Windows Phone 8.1 adds the ability for OEMs and individual apps to customize their custom lock screen themes even further by skinning the font and orientation of time, date, and notification text.[17]

Notifications and settings[edit]

Windows Phone 8.1's Action Center

A new notifications center known as "Action Center" has been added, and allows for the ability to change simple settings such as volume controls. The new notifications area's design allows the user to for example change wireless networks, turn Bluetooth and Airplane Mode on or off, and access "Driving Mode" from four customisable boxes at the top of the screen, while beneath these four horizontally placed boxes include recent text messages and social integration.[22][23][24]

Apps can also send users location-specific notifications with the addition of a new geofencing API.[14]


Microsoft has added a "Word Flow" keyboard in Windows Phone 8.1, which is similar to the "Swype" keyboard option available on Android devices, allowing users to swipe through letters to type. As the user swipes, the keyboard generates space automtically for the next word to be entered.[17]

Fifteen-year old Lakeside School student Gaurav Sharma, using a low-end Nokia Lumia device equipped with Windows Phone 8.1 and the "Word Flow" keyboard broke the Guinness World Record for the world's fastest typing on a mobile phone, which was previously held by a Samsung Galaxy S4 user, by 8 seconds.[25][26]


Users can now automatically upgrade existing phone calls to Skype video calls from within the phone call UI, which has also been revamped with larger buttons. In addition to a large photo of the contact, text with the user's name and phone number now appear at the top of the screen instead of directly above the dialer. Skype calls can also be directly initiated from Cortana.[17]

App Framework[edit]

Apps for Windows Phone 8.1 can now be created using the same application model as Store apps for Windows 8, based on the Windows Runtime, and the file extension for WP apps is now APPX (which is used for Windows Store apps), instead of Windows Phone's traditional XAP file format. Applications built for WP8.1 can invoke semantic zoom, as well as access to single sign-on with a Microsoft account. The Windows Phone Store now also updates apps automatically.[20] The store can be manually checked for updates available for applications on a device. It also adds the option to update applications when on Wi-Fi only.

App developers will be able to develop apps using C# / Visual Basic.NET (.NET), C++ (CX) or HTML5/Javascript, like for Windows 8.

Developers will also be able to build "universal apps" for both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8 that share almost all code, except for that specific to the platform, such as user interface and phone APIs.[27]

Apps built for Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7 automatically run on Windows Phone 8.1, but apps built for Windows Phone 8.1 will not run on any previous version of Windows Phone.[14]

File system[edit]

SkyDrive has been completely rebranded to OneDrive across the operating system after Microsoft's settlement of a dispute over the "Sky" trademark with BSkyB. Users are also presented with multiple options when a Windows Phone 8.1 device is connected to a computer via USB.

Enterprise and other improvements[edit]

Windows Phone 8.1 adds support for VPN Bluetooth 4.0 LE.[20]



Windows Phone 8.1 devices will be manufactured by Gionee, HTC, Huawei, JSR, Karbonn, LG, Lenovo, Longcheer, Micromax, Nokia, Samsung, Xolo, and ZTE.[28] Sony (under the Xperia or Vaio brand) has also stated its intention to produce Windows Phone devices in the near future.[29] During BUILD 2014, Microsoft announced two additional hardware partners - Micromax and Prestigio.[30]

Hardware requirements[edit]

Starting with Windows Phone 8.1, several hardware buttons that were previously required on Windows Phone are no longer a requirement for device manufactuers, a move that was made in order to allow OEMs to develop devices that can run both WP and Android.

WP now supports on-screen buttons that OEMs can use to replace the capacitive "back, "Windows", and "search" buttons that have been required for devices running the OS since 2010. The new on-screen buttons can be hidden by swiping them to the side of the screen.[31]

Windows Phone device manufactuers are also no longer required to include a physical camera button on the side of the phone.

The Nokia Lumia 930, a high-end Windows Phone 8.1 device.
Windows Phone 8.1 minimum device requirements
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor or higher processor (up to quad-core supported)
Minimum 512 MB RAM for WVGA phones; minimum 1 GB RAM for 720p / WXGA / 1080p
Minimum 4 GB flash memory
GPS and A-GNSS; GLONASS is supported if OEMs decide to include it
Support for micro-USB 2.0
3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with three-button detection support
Rear-facing AF camera with optional LED or Xenon flash, optional front-facing camera (both need to be VGA or better)
Accelerometer, proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as vibration motor (magnetometer and gyroscope are optional)
802.11b/g and Bluetooth (802.11n is optional)
DirectX graphics hardware support with hardware acceleration for Direct3D using programmable GPU
Multi-touch capacitive touch screen with minimum of four simultaneous points

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "8.10.12359.845 is the WP8.1 Build. The installation experience & how to update for newbies". Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Jo Foley, Mary (June 20, 2012). "Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 finally gets a 'real' Windows core". ZDNet. Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  3. ^ Fourth Generation Talk
  4. ^ a b "Windows Phone 8.1 now available to developers". April 14, 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Windows Phone 8.1 – Microsoft quietly sends invites for confidential SDK Dev Preview program | Windows Phone Central
  6. ^ Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana, coming in April
  7. ^
  8. ^ Windows Phone 8.0 is upgradeable, Microsoft says - Computerworld
  9. ^ Microsoft says 'next release' of Windows Phone is on target for the holidays | The Verge
  10. ^ Microsoft details new Windows Phone 8 update, but real fixes won't come until 2014 | The Verge
  11. ^ Complete Guide to Windows Phone 8 GDR2 | Windows Phone content from Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows
  12. ^ Microsoft Windows Phone 8 GDR3 update detailed | Pocketnow
  13. ^ Leaked Photos of Windows Phone 8.1 Update Reveal Notification Center
  14. ^ a b c d e Developers leak new features included in Windows Phone 8.1 SDK | Windows Phone Central
  15. ^
  16. ^ Windows Phone 8.1 features leaked by developer | Microsoft - CNET News
  17. ^ a b c d e
  18. ^
  19. ^ Windows Phone 8.1 features leaked by developers - News - Trusted Reviews
  20. ^ a b c d Windows Phone 8.1 includes universal apps and lots of feature updates | The Verge
  21. ^ Windows Phone 8.1: The latest on what's on the leaked feature list | ZDNet
  22. ^ First screenshots of the Notification Center for Windows Phone 8.1 reveal new design | Windows Phone Central
  23. ^ With 8.1 update and Action Center, Windows Phone users will finally have a notifications hub - Tech2
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Leaked images show Universal Store of apps for Windows and Windows Phone. 2014-02-13
  28. ^
  29. ^ "The new Windows Phone 8 manufacturer... that you've probably never heard of". Neowin. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  30. ^ "Micromax to launch Windows Phone 8.1 devices soon, Microsoft announces". 
  31. ^ Windows Phone 8.1 SDK reveals universal cross-platform apps, on-screen buttons, more | ExtremeTech