Today, Redmond-based software giant is opening its Windows Phone 8.1 operating system to the public, with the release of a Developer Preview version of the OS, yet it seems that almost everyone could have access to it.Windows Phone 8.1 was made official in early April with a load of new features packed inside, including Cortana, the digital assistant that should offer a more personal experience on the mobile OS.
The platform will start rolling out to end users in a few months (most probably starting this May), but enthusiasts can already get a taste of it via the aforementioned Developer Preview release.
It might not come with the full range of Windows Phone 8.1 features packed inside, but it will still have a great deal of new capabilities to offer to its users, that’s for sure.
As mentioned above, despite the fact that it is labeled Developer Preview, the OS upgrade will be available virtually for anyone, as long as they have a supported device and an app builder account. These two might prove a bit of a hassle for some people, but the end result will certainly make it worthwhile.
First and foremost, in order to get a taste of the update, you will need a Windows Phone 8-based device. You might want to make sure that the WP8 GDR3 update was already installed on it, just to be on the safe side.
Microsoft has already confirmed with Windows Phone 8.1 will be released to all WP8 devices out there, which means that you can grab the Developer Preview even on a Lumia 520, a Lumia 620, Lumia 920, HTC 8X, Lumia 1520, and the like.
You will also need a developer account to receive access to the OS upgrade, regardless of whether you are a Windows Phone Developer, or simply registered with App Studio (if you’re not serious about building applications, you will certainly prefer the latter, since it is free).
You will also need to have the Preview for Developers App installed on the handset in order to be able to download the OS upgrade. It is available in the Windows Phone Store, so it should not be too difficult to install.
For those who have a developer-unlocked handset, things should be even easier, as they will only need to grab the aforementioned application to start downloading the Windows Phone 8.1 OS.
The necessary tools for unlocking a handset can be found on this page on Microsoft’s website, along with a step-by-step guide on how to use it.
Unlocking a device could void warranty, so you should take that risk into account. However, the process is said to be pretty safe, and there’s little chance that the phone will be damaged.
However, Microsoft says that users won't necessarily need to developer-unlock their smartphones to receive access to the newer OS version. Those who only register in the App Studio program will be good to go as well.
The Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview was made available today, April 14. To grab it, you can head over to Settings > Phone Update > Check for updates, provided that you have already performed the above steps.
Before kicking off the update, however, you might want to back up all files on the device, to ensure that nothing will be lost in the process. You’ll also need at least 1GB of available storage on the handset, and to make sure that the battery inside it has been charged at least at 50%.
As WPCentral notes, the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview will be different from the usual OS upgrades and firmware releases that end-users receive.
However, the official update will arrive on developer preview handsets as well, bringing any new enhancements that might have been included in the OS, along with a firmware upgrade for the device, should the manufacturer have one available.
One other thing that users should keep in mind when installing Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview is the fact that they will not be able to revert to the older platform iteration. And, for what it’s worth, there’s no actual reason to do that.