Windows Phone News

That time is upon us, folks! Microsoft is hosting their annual Build conference, where the company is expected to announce, reveal, tantalize and woo developers with their new and updated creations. Being that you’re at Windows Phone Central, you’re probably concerned with one particular aspect: Windows Phone 8.1.

The Windows Phone Central team is en route to San Francisco as we speak to cover the massive event. Sam Sabri, myself and Mark Guim will all be on the ground, bringing you the latest and greatest coverage as it happens. Rich Edmonds, George Ponder, Michael Archambault, and Paul Acevedo will be covering our flank while we’re gone, picking up those stories that we’ve missed.

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Nokia has locked down a fairly juicy enterprise contract with Spain’s CaixaBank. This will see a whooping 30,000 Lumia devices rolled out across CaixaBank’s workforce. The Lumia 925 will be deployed as the first phase of this program, while employees will have a chance to get a deal on Nokia devices for friends and family as well. Tight integration with Office apps, NFC implementation, and strong encryption are just some of the reasons CaixaBank cited for their choice.

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The Nokia 3310 is an iconic phone. Nokia released the mobile phone way back in the fourth quarter of 2000. It went on to sell over 126 million units. The inability to run Windows Phone is by far the biggest drawback of trying to use the Nokia 3310 today. Which is why we’re pretty stoked that Nokia is giving the 3310 a modern refresh. Live tiles and 41-megapixel sensor? Sign us up!

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Microsoft still hasn't shared any valuable marketshare data about Windows Phone penetration around the world. Until then, we’ll rely on data from market research companies like Kantar, IDC and others. Today we’re looking at some new data from Kantar about Windows Phone and its growth (or lack thereof) around the globe. Find out if Windows Phone was a winner or loser in your region.

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It’s Monday morning, just days before Microsoft’s Build conference kicks off in San Francisco. Windows Phone 8.1 is one of a few announcements expected by Redmond, with Nokia following up later in the day with some their own press event.

While Windows Phone 8.1 is going to be the big news, a lot of you are only concerned with one thing: When do you get it?

The distribution of 8.1 will include a few steps, including getting it into manufacturers’ hands, pushing updates through carriers and most tantalizing, the Developer Preview Program. That program, accessed through an app on the Windows Phone Store and open to anybody with a free App Studio account, will allow everyone to install Windows Phone 8.1 on any Windows Phone 8 device weeks before “official” carrier updates.

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Earlier in the week we reported that the development of the Windows Phone 8.1 core had finished. There were some minor bugs by the secondary team that still needed to be ironed out, but in essence, the OS is completely wrapped.

What wasn’t clear was when the OS would be dropped to OEM partners to be put on devices. We assumed that it would be after some of those minor tweaks had been ironed out, but as it turns out it was March 26. In other words, the final build of Windows Phone 8.1 is now in Microsoft partners’ hands, being tested and prepped for devices.

That leads us to some other questions, like scheduling. Through various sources we’ve been able to verify that starting Wednesday, April 23rd, new phones running Windows Phone 8.1 will be available. It’s not clear which phones those are, but presumably the Lumia 630, Lumia 930 and Samsung ATIV SE (for Verizon) are top contenders. We’re also supposing that this is for US markets although it’s not known at this time.

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As we reported earlier, the leaks for Windows Phone 8.1 are coming in at a steady pace now. Following up on this morning’s video that showed off the new OS is one focusing on the new Start screen options.

Not much has happened with the Start screen since Windows Phone 8 was announced, but with 8.1 users will have at least two new features to help customize and personalize their phones: Start background and Show more Tiles.

As revealed in this admittedly poorly shot video, users can choose from a pre-selection of background images for their Start screens. Alternatively, users can select photos from their Facebook, OneDrive, or camera roll as well. Perhaps the neat thing is the parallax movement when the user scrolls, giving the Tiles a true “windows” feel to them, much like looking outside a window pane.

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With Windows Phone 8.1 just days away from being announced, the floodgates are starting to open for leaks about Microsoft’s new major OS update. This morning, a new video originally found on YouKu, the popular Chinese video hosting service, and published by the site Coolxap, has been released.

The video, like many leaks, is of abysmal quality, and it was originally shot vertically. We managed to rip the video and reorient it, so it’s easier to watch. See it after the break...

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We’re less than a week away from seeing Windows Phone 8.1 publically unveiled. All Windows Phone 8 handsets are able to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of Windows Phone when it becomes available. However, there are customers out there still waiting to get Update 3 and Lumia Black. Our friends using the Nokia Lumia 620 on Telus can now check that off their list. The update is rolling out for them.

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The Windows Phone 8.1 core has been finished today, so it seems appropriate to take a look at an area that is need of some improvement: the Windows Phone Store.

The Windows Phone Store has been both a source of inspiration (e.g. trials), and tribulations (e.g. weak tools for reviews). Luckily for you, it looks like the Windows Phone team is delivering some user-requested features and parity with Windows 8.1. Hopefully these changes will deliver a more satisfying user experience.

The information comes to us from people familiar with the matter, and we have been able to verify that the information is accurate. Having said that, there may be some changes to the final design for the RTM release of Windows Phone 8.1.

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Late breaking story but we have confirmation that Windows Phone 8.1 has finalized today, at least for the Core team. That’s still not technically a 'Release to Manufacturers' (RTM) because the Consumer Experience (​CXE) team still needs to work out a few bugs. That will happen over the next couple of weeks before it is shipped to OEMs to put on new devices.

Microsoft is expected to unveil Windows Phone 8.1 next week during Build, where we will bring you the latest coverage live. The Developer Preview release though has been delayed by about a week from the original plan. Still, developers in attendance are expected to get a surprise or two to take home.

From Windows Phone Central to the Windows Phone team, congratulations!

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UK mobile operator EE has announced new entry-level 4G plans for the market. These new contracted plans start from £13.99 per month, enabling consumers to take advantage of faster Internet speeds at a more affordable price point. The operator has been criticized in the past for its pricing of LTE in the UK.

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It’s been rumored and now confirmed: Nokia will be in San Francisco the same day Microsoft launches their Build 2014 developer conference. Coincidence? Of course not. Microsoft is expected to announce Windows Phone 8.1 in the early morning keynote, with Nokia taking their stage later in the day at 5 PM at their own event.

The last time Microsoft announced a major OS update – Windows Phone 8 – there was a delay of a few weeks before Nokia was ready to launch the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920. This time, that gap has closed.

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Next week, Microsoft is expected to unveil Windows Phone 8.1. Usually with big OS refreshes you get a few hardware launches, as well. That’s no different this time around as we’re expecting the Lumia 630 (aka ‘Moneypenny’), Lumia 930 (aka ‘Martini’, a non-Verizon version of the Icon) and eventually ‘Goldfinger’, which we hear is going to be a somewhat radical departure in terms of user interaction.

One of those 8.1 launch devices is reportedly the Samsung ATIV SE, another refresh from Samsung destined for Verizon. Not much is known about this device except that it may have a five inch, 1080P display and that it’s being built for Windows Phone 8.1. A render has been leaked by Evleaks that suggests a strong similarity between it and other ATIV devices in terms of aesthetics.

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In the next few months, Nokia is expected to release a forthcoming firmware update for their Lumia line. That should be no secret as we’re also expecting an OS update called Windows Phone 8.1. Firmware helps make your phone’s hardware better, and it’s very specific to your device. The OS though is general. That’s why the Developer Preview Program only gives the OS update, but requires additional firmware updates later on to complete the experience.

OS updates and firmware are like Sith, there are always two.

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UK fashion magazine Centrefold (www.centrefoldmagazine.com) has shot its entire 10th edition on a Lumia 1020. The Windows Phone sports an impressive 41MP shooter with advanced features, enabling the magazine to produce some spectacular results – something which is not the norm when it comes to smartphones and the mobile handset industry as a whole. 

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Nokia teamed up with National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez (@alvarephoto) last summer to promote the launch of the Nokia Lumia 1020. Stephen and Nokia took the Lumia 1020 to the Grand Canyon in the United States to produce some stellar images. The partnership continues as Stephen recently visited Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to capture more beautiful images with the Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 1520. Check out the incredible video and a few images after the break.

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Every month we look forward to the latest data from AdDuplex. As you probably know, AdDuplex is the cross-promotion network for Windows Phone and Windows 8. It allows developers to promote their apps for free among other developers. Alan Mendevelevich (@ailon) is the man behind AdDuplex and gathers data every month into very informative reports. These reports help give us a look at the Windows Phone ecosystem. Let’s check out the data from March to see which Windows Phone reigns supreme.

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