Microsoft Announces More Details about Windows Phone 8.1 in Barcelona

One of the highlights of Sunday’s Mobile World Conference was the announcement of Microsoft Corp about the critical details of its upcoming Windows Phone 8.1. The giant technology firm took advantage of the event in Barcelona, Spain to introduce the updated version of its mobile operating system.

First on the revelation is the timing of the launch. The company said Windows Phone 8.1 would be released ‘this spring.’ Second, there would be new capabilities to let more companies design and create cheaper Windows Phones.

The new platform is designed to support Qualcomm Snapdragon’s 400 LTE chip as well as the earlier 200 and 400 chips. It would also allow Windows Phone to operate even on existing Android hardware. But in such cases, soft buttons would replace hard buttons. Mandatory physical camera button would be eliminated.

The SD support would be expanded to enable storing of apps on any SD card. This would be very ideal especially is users are using low-memory and cheaper handsets. Moreover, the new platform would support dual SIMs. There would also be a wider range of Chinese network standards.

For new enterprise features, Windows Phone 8.1 would include S/MIME support, enterprise Wi-Fi, enterprise VPNs, certificate management, and extended mobile device management.

New partners

Microsoft even announced a new set of hardware partners. Those would include LG, ZTE, and Lenovo. Also on that list are several Indian and Chinese vendors that are logically unknown in the US market. Those include Longcheer, Gionee, and Xolo. But any company could build Windows Phone just by using a new Qualcomm reference platform.

Thus, it is possible to take Qualcomm Android design and run Windows on it. But it does not mean that Android and Windows could be dual-booted on a single phone. It is also not possible to simply buy a copy of the Windows Phone to load it into a phone, although XDA-developers and hackers could figure how to make it happen.

Timing of the update 

The announcement comes just as the company is about to complete the process of acquiring the mobile business of Nokia Corp. Nokia smartphones currently comprise of over 80% of the presently existing Windows Phones.

All existing Windows Phone 8 devices would be able to update to Windows Phone 8.1 later this spring. Microsoft even clarified that in many cases, wireless networks would take a say on whether devices of its customers would be able to obtain the update. 

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Drew is a regular contributor covering trending topics.