We've been waiting a long time for Microsoft to release the Windows Phone 8 GDR3 update, and we can now confirm it's never coming. Instead, say hello to Windows Phone 8 Update 3.
That's the new, friendlier name for the update that will finally make quad-core, full HD Windows Phones a possibility, and which Microsoft says will start rolling out to existing users “in the coming weeks”.
Update 3 isn't to be confused with Windows Phone 8.1 “Blue”, which is still only expected around the end of Q1(ish) next year. Yet while it isn't enough of a step forward to earn a version number bump, Update 3 is arguably the bigger deal from the consumer market point of view, especially in the run-up to Christmas.
It means we're now going to start seeing quad-core, 1080p-screened Windows Phones announced over the next month or so, and hopefully we're not just talking Nokias either.
The jump to support higher-resolution 5in and 6in screens is the headline feature in GDR3, as not only does it finally make full HD displays on Windows Phones possible (a year after they started emerging on Android), but also because these larger start screens will have room for six Live Tiles across, instead of the present four. Built-in WP Hubs will be scaled to suit the new size too.
Next up is support for the quad-core Qualcomm MSM8974 processor – that's the Snapdragon 800 to you and me, an unavoidable presence on most of the top Android phones these days and set to be on board Nokia's Lumia 1520 phablet when it's announced in a week's time.
Those are the two main improvements, but others include the new Driving Mode for scaled-back lockscreen notifications and the ability to send auto-replies to messages and the like while you're in the car. There are also improved accessibility apps, easier internet tethering and minor tweaks like more versatile options for ringtones, the addition of a rotation lock and improvements to storage management, initial Wi-Fi access and Bluetooth connection quality.
So when will Update 3 be rolling out? Well, it'll obviously be on board any new Windows Phones announced anytime soon, including next week's Nokia Lumias, while here's the word directly from Windows Phone corporate VP Darren Laybourn on the Windows blog: “the rollout initially kicks off in the coming weeks and will continue over several months. Specific timing depends on a number of factors including your carrier and phone model.”
However, a Windows Phone Preview for Developers has already launched for developers and, um, other interested parties willing to jump through a few hoops. For more details on how to get involved, the best place to go is Paul Thurrott's WinSupersite.