Rumors

We're hearing additional confirmation of rumors that Microsoft is speeding up their release cycle for Windows. Mary Jo Foley's sources say we may see Windows 8.1 update 2 as soon as August, which could include a new start menu, but probably not floating modern apps in desktop mode, which may take until Spring 2015 to arrive in Windows 9. We had heard Windows Phone update cycles would be sped up too, so it would be no surprise if Windows had things kicked up a notch too.

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So far, the Preview for Developers program with Windows Phone 8.1 is going very well for Microsoft and those interested in getting an early look at the next OS. The preview, however, is not completely optimized for individual devices, and they still need new firmware to be complete. Once “official” updates rollout with OEM firmware, we expect things to be even better for consumers.

Still, Microsoft is in a ‘pay attention to the customer’ mode, reacting very quickly to user feedback. That’s why we’re excited to hear, at least via Microsoft’s Community forums, that an update to the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview will be forthcoming.

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This week is certainly expected to be a rather busy one for Windows Phone and what better way to kick things off than with some leaked codenames. Courtesy of @evleaks, the popular leakster Twitter profile, new Nokia codenames have been published for everyone to begin speculating with. In addition, we figured we would toss in a few Microsoft codenames to make it all even more interesting!

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New information revealed to Windows Phone Central confirms that Microsoft is planning at least two OS updates for Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014. Internally known as ‘general distribution releases – or GDRs –  GDR1 and GDR2 are already on the roadmap for this year, with a possible third one in 2015 before the next OS revision, codenamed ‘Threshold’.

It should be of little surprise that Microsoft plans on repeating the same update schedule for Windows Phone 8 for 8.1, as it has proven to be a relatively successful method for adding new features to the OS and keeping Windows Phone in the news. A twelve-month cycle for major OS revisions also seems to be the new norm both for Phone and Windows.

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We know that Samsung is working on launching the ATIV SE on Verizon, but what about the rest of the world? SamMobile has reported that the manufacturer is actively developing another Windows Phone – the ATIV Core. It's believed to be a mid-range smartphone and will be a launching product for Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft's next major update for the platform.

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We're looking forward to a handful of new devices this month. Nokia should have two - the Lumia 630 and the Lumia 930. Samsung is the other OEM expecting to put out a new Windows Phone handset. That's the ATIV SE and is one we've been watching for sometime. However, the specs of the phone have remained somewhat elusive. That changes today.

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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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The next firmware update from Nokia, which will be bundled with the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 release, has had its internal codename – Lumia Cherry Blossom Pink – leaked thanks to screenshots published on a Chinese website. Just like Bittersweet Shimmer, which later became known as Lumia Black once released to the public, we expect Nokia to drop 'Lumia Cherry Blossom Pink' for a catchier phrase. Other screenshots were included to tease some of the features in the upcoming operating system update.

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With Microsoft’s Build 2014 just right around the corner, it looks like I have to squash some rumors floating around. The latest is “confirmation” of a Lumia 1820.

The first report of a Lumia 1820 came from a non-reputable Twitter source, who promised it would feature a hilariously spec’d “3GB RAM 5.2 inch QHD screen and Snapdragon 805” along with a Lytro camera. I said back before Mobile World Congress that it was nonsense, as many were “predicting” it would be announced at that Nokia event. It was not.

Now, the unicorn phone has returned.

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We'll be the first to say that we wish HTC would take its new One (M8) Android device and slap Windows Phone on it. It's a truly beautiful smartphone, just read Android Central's in-depth review of the device to get an idea how it looks. We ran a quick poll yesterday asking if you would like to see a Windows Phone version, but rumors are suggesting one may be in the works.

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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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The Nokia Lumia 520 was the sleeper hit for Windows Phone in 2013. The inexpensive Windows Phone went on to become the most popular Windows Phone ever. Last time we checked into stats from AdDuplex the Lumia 520 commanded 33.0 percent of the marketshare for Windows Phone devices. The Lumia 920 (7.4 percent) and Lumia 620 (7.0 percent) came in second and third. Which is why we’re greatly anticipating the true successor to the Lumia 520 in Nokia’s smartphone lineup. Ready for the Lumia 530?

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As we get closer to the official unveiling of Windows Phone 8.1 we’ll start to see more and more handsets with the updated OS leak. We’ve seen a few from Nokia and an offering from Samsung. We’ve recently seen Nokia’s upcoming Lumia 630/635 (aka “Moneypenny”). Now today, we’re looking at some images of the Samsung ATIV SE. An upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 handset slated for Verizon later this year.

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Microsoft is beginning to try new things to tackle Android and iOS in the competitive smartphone market. Slashing the Windows Phone licensing fees for some OEM partners may be one option the company is looking into. According to a report on India Times, Microsoft is waiving license costs and offering the operating system to at least two Indian phone vendors for free.

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