MWC 2014: Windows Phone 8.1 will be backwards compatible, Microsoft announces new hardware partners

MWC 2014: Windows Phone 8.1 will be backwards compatible, Microsoft announces new hardware partnersIt says a lot about Windows Phone's continued struggle to make any meaningful progress that not one single new handset running the platform will be announced at MWC in Barcelona this year.

But Microsoft has still found time to talk up its strategy, revealing some fresh details yesterday about the Windows Phone 8.1 update that'll be emerging in the Spring.

And for the most part it looks like positive news across the board, with WP8.1 seemingly set to remove many of the biggest frustrations Windows Phone developers and end users alike have been critical of.

Probably the most important point from a hardware point of view is that Windows Phone 8.1 will support all current Windows Phone 8 handsets. It would have been almost criminal for Microsoft to shoot itself in the foot again as it did with WP7.5 by shutting off devices running previous versions of the software from being upgraded – especially since the likes of the Lumia 520/525 have finally gained some much-needed sales traction for Windows Phone 8.

Windows Phone 8.1 will also bring support for a wider range of processor hardware, including the low-end Snapdragon 200 and 400, and will add LTE and dual-SIM support, the ability to install apps to microSD card and support for on-screen rather than physical buttons for the first time.

The idea is to move towards a scenario where manufacturers are able to come up with a single hardware design and specification and give users a choice of Android or Windows Phone on what is otherwise a near-identical handset.

Speaking of which, LG, Lenovo and ZTE are the pick of a new bunch of nine Windows Phone partners announced by Microsoft (the full list is Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo,LG, Longcheer and ZTE).

That doesn't guarantee new WP handsets from the companies in question, though – simply that they're interested in working with Microsoft on the platform.

There's plenty more about the changes expected in Windows Phone 8.1 (plus Windows 8.1 itself) over on the Windows blog. In terms of timing, Microsoft isn't getting more specific than to say the updates will be emerging in the Spring, but we'll let you know once that changes.

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JanSt / MOD  Feb. 24, 2014 at 13:51

If only half the new features hinted at in the SDK arrive with the first installment of WP8.1, then it might well become the best OS out there. Who'd have thunked? Not me.
And if Nokia ever find away to kill the camera shutter lag in their Lumias, it'll be Christmas every day.


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