Start Screen Background Apps

Spice up your Windows Phone 8.1 Start Screen with OneStart

No Cyan until September

Some phones in India not getting Lumia Cyan until September

Cortana for your interests

New video shows how to add interests for Cortana

Lumia Cyan Update

Cyan going to Italy soon for the 1020?

New phone alert

All green Lumia 1520 now available from AT&T

Call me maybe

How to speed dial on Windows Phone 8.1

Cyan on AT&T

Lumia 520 and 925 on AT&T finally get Cyan and 8.1


Microsoft ends Device Hub beta, included in Lumia Cyan

How To

Want the Lumia Cyan update? You need to downgrade your phone first.

How To

Here's how to move apps to your micro SD card


Demo of the Animated Lock Screen for 8.1

Windows Phone News

Here's a sneak peek at Lock screen apps on Windows Phone 8.1

General News

Microsoft launches new training portal to get you started on Windows Phone

Windows Phone News

Lumia Cyan comes to the Lumia 925 on O2 in the U.K. and to the Lumia 625 on Ireland's Meteor

Windows Phone News

Long awaited Lock screen app for Windows Phone 8.1 almost ready for public beta

Windows Phone News

Microsoft releases helpful video to get you started with Cortana


Microsoft's aiming for flagship Windows Phones, killing Nokia X but selling MixRadio

Windows Phone News

O2 UK shares details on the Windows Phone 8.1 update, teases visual voicemail

Windows Phone News

Preview for Developers users need to rollback for Cyan

Windows Phone News

Cortana showing a stock chart is a nice touch on Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone 8.1 Review

Windows Phone 8.1 Review

Our comprehensive overview and review of Windows Phone 8.1

After eighteen months of being, Windows Phone 8 is getting its first major OS update from Microsoft. While Windows Phone 8.0 has had three minor updates between late 2012 and 2013, it is Windows Phone 8.1 that will finally bring a small avalanche of new features and improvements to users. The update is free and expected to arrive for all current Windows Phone 8 devices in the coming months, though starting today, a Preview for Developers is now live should you want to take the OS for an early spin.

I have been using the Preview release of Windows Phone 8.1 for nearly the last two weeks on a Nokia Lumia Icon. Reviewing a whole OS, especially one as robust as Windows Phone is no small feat. Regardless, I’ll go through what I think are the biggest new features and even some small changes that I think users want to hear about.

Is Windows Phone 8.1 really a game changer? And has Microsoft finally delivered a product that the masses can adopt? Let’s find out.

This is one huge update

Let’s just get this out of the way. Windows Phone 8.1 could easily be called Windows Phone 8.5 or even 9. This doesn’t feel like a 0.1 update. This feels like a long-term project that Microsoft has been working on, delivering a massive set of new features to end users. Heck, the ‘reviewers guide’ could pass as a short novel, coming in at 239 pages.


The changes to the OS are significant, not minor patchwork. The only reason Microsoft is calling it ‘8.1’ is to align it with its bigger brother, Windows 8.1 for desktop. That’s fine, although it does slightly downplay this update’s significance.

If I had to cite history, this is equivalent to the Windows Phone 7.5 update dubbed ‘Mango’ from back in 2011. Windows Phone 8.1, nicknamed ‘Blue’ is just as substantial. Mango was a much needed update as Windows Phone 7.0 was a re-launch of Microsoft’s mobile platform. Windows Phone 8 was also another re-launch, as Microsoft had to reboot the kernel and the entire architecture of the OS. In that regard, 8.1 makes sense. It’s a catch up update. But it’s also more.

New Start screen experience, Theme syncing and UI changes

For the most part, Windows Phone 8.1 keeps the core of Microsoft’s design intact. There is no backing away from existing UI principals, just expansion and refinement.


The most interesting feature in that regard is the option for backgrounds on the Start screen. Many people had requested this ability to customize further the look of their device, as iOS and Android both have the ability to set a ‘wallpaper’. Many thought Microsoft would follow suit, with a background image replacing the dark or light themed background and the Tiles on top of the new wallpaper.

But this is Microsoft, and they wanted to be different. So with 8.1, users now have the ability to basically skin the Tiles by overlaying an image of their choice. That’s not entirely accurate though as what is really happening is some Tiles are becoming transparent, with the user image showing through the Tile.

Windows Phone 8.1 Theme

How it works is if an app uses the ‘Iconic design’ for its Live Tile, it will show the image behind it.  If the tile uses a ‘Flip layout’, any area of the background that is transparent will show the background image. As a result, some apps will have a ‘see through’ ability with the new background images, while others will remain a solid, preselected color e.g. Facebook. The effect can be seen within our own WPCentral app, where we let the user choose between an Iconic or Flip design for their Live Tile. If the user chooses Iconic and it’s pinned, within a few minutes the Tile will update with the transparent background effect. That may cause some confusion amongst users, at least initially, but I think developers will adjust their apps going forward.

Still, the effect is daring. Microsoft once again has chosen a different path, and while not everyone may like it, I think many will appreciate the feature once they find that one right photo. Users can choose from a loaded library of 41 images from Microsoft, or they could choose photos from their Camera library, Saved library, OneDrive or even Facebook. Heck, you could even make a background of a solid gradient color and use that. It’s up to you. If you don’t like the new background image, you can still choose from one of 20 colors for the system Accent. Unfortunately, Microsoft has not given users a color selector for Accents, so that is one area where I would like to see improvement.

Speaking of Accents, if you’re running Windows 8.1 on your Surface or PC, your Accent theme color can now sync between your Phone and that device. The process is fantastic and works when you choose an Accent color under Settings > Start + Theme. Once chosen, within 30 seconds to a few minutes your PC and all Microsoft linked devices will all change their Accent colors, as well. This is a user option, found under Settings > Sync My Settings > Theme, and it can be disabled should you want to keep them separated.

Finally, here are few other notable but small changes in Windows Phone 8.1

  • Signal strength, data connection, Wi-Fi, Battery, Location and more all remain on the screen; they no longer auto-hide
  • New People Hub redesign with smaller fonts
  • Phone history now groups repeat calls from a user with ‘(#)’ representing number of calls
  • Speed Dial is finally here under Phone
  • Larger font for Time on the Lock screen; moves down on the screen if there are notifications
  • Charging notification alert has changed to a shorter, less annoying sound
  • Freshly installed apps say ‘new’ under their titles in the App list
  • Games are installed under the App list in addition to the Games hub
  • Games hub removes SmartGlass linking and adds new Friends and Messages icons

The changes that Microsoft have brought to 8.1 are welcomed. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still room for improvement, but there’s enough here to make the OS feel very fresh and to keep users busy with some new customizations. However, I’d still like to see:

  • Large Tile size, similar to Windows 8.1 (basically 4 medium Tiles, combined)
  • Accent color chooser
  • Background images look better blurred; give users a tool to blur images before setting as background


There are 450 comments. Sign in to comment

Ankmeyester says:

That didn't take long :P

pmich says:

Awesome detailed review.. it's almost like he had it working on his phone before it went live!  :)   


Very Detailed and will constantly revert back to this post to make sure i don't miss anything.  I'm very VERY VERY excited about the notification system.  It was such a major drawback for me.  Finally i can remove the shortcut tiles that wasted so much valuable space on my start screen

Rem97 says:

I'm guessing you didn't read the article. "I have been using the preview release of Windows Phone 8.1 for nearly the last two weeks" -Daniel

how did you get the preview release? I also have a nokia lumia icon. I cant find it in the shop, and when i do a "search for updates" It comes back with nothing. 


You have to go get the Preview For Developers app and sign in. After that, the app will tell you that you can now install updates. You go to settings and then, phone update. You will have at least 2 updates of more versions of WP8 before you can finally download WP8.1. I have had WP8.1 for the past 2 days and I absolutly love it. I think you will too. If you want a clearer description of how to get Windows Phone 8.1 before anybody else, you should look it up on YouTube.

rida kainat says:

can you help me out through this?
Actually i did the same as you said.I came up with two respective updates but the update i have been hunting for i.e 8.1, I cant download it.They give me an error code.

You have to reset your phone

jwort93 says:

He says right in the article at the beginning that he's been using it on an icon for 2 weeks.

pmich says:

Sarcasm folks...

Funny, I totally got the sarcasm this time too, lol

najmu nazeem says:

Hi Daniel,


Thanks for the wonderfull review, Iam from India and i have lumia 720 and i have updated it to windows 8.1, but i did not get Cortana, Even after changing location, pls Help...

You must change region, keyboard, speech, and language to English United States...language across entire device must match! Ironically, I live in the United States and lost Cortana because I wanted an Indian female voice for Cortana and after I downloaded the speech pack...Cortana was deactivated saying that the language had to match my display language... So then I tried changing the display language to match and restarted my phone... Then I lost Cortana altogether... So I had to revert everything to get her back

Hi Nazeem,

Can you tell how did you update to WP8.1, I am not able to find it. I tried by checking in phone update but its showing as no updates for your phone. I am using Lumia720.




Can any one tell , how to update to wp8.1 . I am using Lumia720.




rsimpson8 says:

It's available to developers right now.Watch your provider for the retail launch.

najmu nazeem says:

Hi Satish. Kindly follow the link for the detail on how to download preview for developers.

PJLips says:

Dan, is it (finally) possible to scrub to a specific part of a song instead of pressing and holding the fast-forward button?

I listen to a lot of mixes and compilations which often are longer than 1 hour, and having to use the fast-forward button to get to a specific part is a major pain in the butt...

It's still not possbile. :( That was a feature I wished for.. I hope in the next update GDR1 we finally get that. 

mrcrusha829 says:

This is one of the main reasons I left Windows Phone.  The music apps are subpar at best.  Not being able to scrub with a slide bar, creating a playlist easily and overall look of the apps is terrible.  The syncing of music is garbage as well.  Hopefully they will wisen up and fix this as there are many people out there that use their phone for music playback.  If this gets fixed to be like other mobile OS functionality I may return.  I really did like WP but there was just too many things that irked me.  They should have included anything that Android and IOS already have.  This would have helped gain more people adopting the OS from the get go.

jbrandonf says:

If it offered the same things as the other platform but had less apps, why would anyone chose WP? They need to do things better. The scrubber though, no excuse for its poor for so long.

nitt_attaboy says:

Hi Daniel,
I wanted to know if wp 8.1 supports USB OTG & secondly can we transfer all apps & games to the SD card?

midget37 says:

Don't know about USB OTG but most apps can be transfered back and forth between the phones memory and the SD card. No need to redownload them. As far as I know only system apps and certain 3rd party apps can't be installed on the SD card such as some file managers.

Whodaboss says:

Microsoft does provide a copy to some tech writers in advance, before the live date.

Bucky09 says:

Review seems to be quite fantastic!!!

And was at a quick time.

Wael Hasno says:

Oh my God, I'm not home, I must go home now!! Damn!

adrian1338 says:

Dont worry - the update servers are overloaded anyways

Yeah I'm at work smh lol

psychotron says:

It'll still be there when you get home, lol. You people foaming at the mouth about this crack me up. I mean, it's not like the update is going to disappear before you get to it. :D

AliNSiddiqui says:

Lol I knew he had this review tucked away for today! Can't wait to read all this awesomenes xD

The_Lord23 says:

Well done! You actually managed to use that detestible term for the right reason! :D

Pratik Mehta says:

Hi,if I download the update now,what happens? Will my warrenty die?

jbrandonf says:

It wont die, but it'll be comatized.

Tamonas says:


S_C_B says:

I'll read this during work hours!

TripsG says:

Nice article, Daniel. I can only imagine how long you've had this in the can.

akshaypn says:

I Love you !!!


Dean McCrae says:

Just completed the pre-update...ready for "da big one"...

Still migrating data (I hate this phase loooool)

Yousef Kawmi says:

don't worry it worth the time :)
it's rocking my L520 :D

leroytorner says:

Amazing review, look like a new (the one we want) WP! Microsoft aims to the right direction.

ahmadsamhann says:

I hope the video call function can be changed to something else, like WeChat etc. 

Tafsern says:

YES, didn't you read the article?!

Sam Sabri says:

I spy.... Me.

Great review Dan!

Lipe13 says:

That was freaking fast Dan, well done! I guess you won the challenge someone offered you back some days :P

psychotron says:

He had two weeks with the update to write the article, so it wasn't really that fast. ;)

Excellent review and I must say you had a lot of patienece to put up this huge article. Thanks Daniel !

omg :)

Amazing review :)

I LOve You :)

Downloading now :)

Cruzer1 says:

Please don't tell me they removed usb otg and a downloads folder to download any file type via IE? They were the features i was looking forward to!

xirsteon says:

update almost done. fyi, the update 8.1, is the 2nd one. the first update seems like a prep for the 2nd

jayant_daga says:

WPcentral Crashing when am trying to open images section. +720

Sorry if I missed it, but are there any improvements to kids corner?
Specifically the need to not need a password?

FeedTheShark says:

It mentions that in the 8.1 features page, that has been fixed.

May i ask how did you get the Developers preview 2 weeks before the normal user (or the actuall dev like me) ?

I quote "I have been using the Preview release of Windows Phone 8.1 for nearly the last two weeks on a Nokia Lumia Icon"

But great review, thnx now i know what to look for after finishing installing the update
Hope you do another podcast soon

nickros182 says:

Some tech journalists get a preview of the preview so to speak.

jhoff80 says:

Wow,  haven't finished updating my own phone yet, but I hate the fact that games aren't listed separately.  It's going to clutter up my app list far too much.

They will be listed seperately in the games hub, but also in the app list. But I lists are going to get very long with games being included..hope there is some way for us to disclude them from the app list manually and still keep them in the games hub

Dragonic87 says:

yeah I also prefered the fact that Games was only listed in the Games Hub  and not the normal App List aswell :/

kenzibit says:

@Daniel, you forgot to focus on Xbox Hub, music and video apps.

xbox music & video is a big letdown

kenzibit says:

100% agreed. Not forgeting Xbox games hub, I don't even receive notifications anymore and there's no settings option. Well this is a developer preview, lets hope the final apps will be great come june.

Thank you 
What is this update size?

I needed to do 2 updates.  My Nokia 820 had ~900MB space left and installation said it needed additional ~500MB.

Thanks for the great review! However I've got just one beef with you - You guys hold out on us way too much!

Marco Gomes1 says:

Damn it!! I'm full of work up to my ears. Gonna have to read these later and update this evening.

If I use the developer version, can I get paid apps for free? And can I switch back to non-developer version? Thanks!


Why exactly do you need to get paid apps for free? Stop being cheap and support the developers!

Also, once you update, you can't revert back to an earlier version.






ListenUpGuys says:

I keep reading this "can't revert", but no-one has mentioned if they mean "there's no undo button", or if they mean you actually can't flash an earlier firmware.

StefEBear says:

There's no way to return the installed version to WP8 once you have gone to WP8.1 (even if you remove the developer update app

This is amazing! About to begin download!

Darren Walsh says:

Its putting every album I have on my PC to my phone sweet!!!

Sajal Garg says:

What's the download size??

JamesDax3 says:

Holy crap! I have data sense on my AT&T 1520. Sweet!!
Great review btw. Really loving the update so far.

Wondering if AT&T will block it out when the OTA update comes around.

Dk92 says:

I love it! We're moving on up. Kudos Microsoft.

walter1832 says:

It's approximately large

Ditronics says:

Updated and working.... no cortana here 

luismfarelo says:

Hello Daniel, thank you so much for this review, its awesome. Could you tell us please if there is a T9 style keyboard option in 8.1? Thank you!

JPaulsson says:

Kinda sucks that the Word Flow keyboard only works with the english keyboard. Had been looking forward to that one.

anirban130 says:

R u from India? Did u get the preview wp 8.1??

JBWonton says:

Awesome! Can't wait to get home on WiFi!

Winnabe says:

You can trust MSFT to miss out on something like the toggle for Data. Hell, in the initial days of WP, they didnt even think FM Radio was very important in developing countries. I also notice Daniel taking a very soft stance on this point. Bad MSFT, bad - I say this at the risk of sounding overdramatic.

StefEBear says:

It would have been nice if the Celular Data Toggle was an option for the Action Centre (maybe that will come with final release)

For now we just have to go to 'Cellular + SIM' to do it

Mik29 says:

Where's Cortana? I cant find her. Lumia 1020 in the UK. Thanks

Madhu T C says:

Cortana is US only for now

For cortana u shld change all ur regional settings and language to us english and reboot.

anirban130 says:

What about video files sharing over Bluetooth? Can it b done independently from music+videos, or gotta move to camera roll folder to share with other device. My device doesn't have nfc.. So plz clarify this

itsanixtha says:

Is This My New Year Gift :o ... Happy New Year 2071 :)

MrWhiteman says:

Can anyone comment on the camera tint? Did they fix it?

FeedTheShark says:

Great review, can't wait to get it on my phone. Keeps giving an error message, must be too many people hitting the servers right now! It's such a massive update, really should have been more than 8.1. But then if Windows had been 8.2 and this also, it's not like it would have made much difference. It's not like WP going from WP7 to WP7.5 changed the world. So if this had been 8.2 or even 8.5 I doubt it would make any difference either. It's only point releases that really get the big headlines and mindshare. Hopefully Cortana and some other big features can give MS the attention they deserve for this impressive update. I guess they really will have Windows & WP 9 ready in another year with Metro 2 and other goodness.

It's also a shame MS weren't able to take over Nokia much earlier, I'm sure we'd have gotten even more great features if they had been able to work together on this update. I reckon a lot of what will be GDR1 & GDR2 will come from Nokia employees' input.

did the update take a long time? I still stuck on rotating gear screen almost 15 minutes

kinaton says:

Anyone know if 8.1 improves the battery life.

it did on my L520

Yeah, it's got outstanding features to drain battery much faster now, unless you turn off most background services.

Sin Ogaris says:

It might have already been asked but can Games be removed from the app list and remain in the games hub, as I really don't want to clog up my app list.

Oh, and another query, if I change my region to US, is it going to fuck with my location apps? I have a stackload of apps that are specific to my city, is changing region to US to utilise Cortana going to balls that up?

ortizang says:

Holy crap, my phone has like three hours updating. I don't know if the battery will last.


I'm surprised that you were able to update without plugging in. I'd think, with the size of the update, that the phone would prompt you to plug in before beginning the process.

bujinyun21 says:

If I update my lumia 920 to this, will I get the Lumia Cyan update later on from nokia?

2tomtom says:

Simple answer, YES ;-)

I heard somewhere that with 8.1 live tiles are updated more frequently. Can anyone confirm?

Yes, they do. My battery meter tile updates all the time now. On 8.0 it wouldn't update for a long period of time.

And the "Clock Hub" app updates every minute now!

Suedezu says:

Mine took about 1 hour to update.

rahul4aug says:

email improvements..attaching arbitary files? downloading files from IE?

No email improvement as far as attachments goes... Actually is a degrade... can only attach pictures from your picture hub. Otherwise you have to use a link or be within an app to share anything via email. No attaching files to an email (new email or existing email thread)... HUGE FAIL... HUGE HUGE HUGE FAIL.


And not happy about Skype/Messenger messages not integrated into the messaging hub. Why make Skype more integrated for calls but less integrated for messaging? WHY WHY WHY?


This update has some good features but to not deliver on these two HUGE aspects... huge fail in my opinion...

T Moore says:

Wake up

I use Microsoft pdf reader.

Documents on my PC I want to share from my phone when needed. There is a OneDrive for PC software that adds your OneDrive to windows explorer. Paste the document to One Drive. It doesn't need to be in a folder.

Office documents attached in emails. Office documents you open that are attached to emails you receive are saved in Office, places, email opened email attachments. This is default, if you open them they are saved.

Pdf files as email attachments.  In the email, hold the tap on the file, select save, go to your pdf reader library, hold the tap on the file and select share, tap share on the next page and it is loaded to OneDrive.

To share what you have from Office. Tap and hold on the document or pdf  and select share.  The file location can be in documents on your phone, opened email attachments or OneDrive. Pdf files will be in OneDrive.

You don't understand what I'm saying. Yes, I know that you can download attachments from emails sent TO YOU. However you cannot attach documents to an existing email thread unless you use a link which is simply extra steps and much less intuitive and less productive, not to mention some people do not like receiving links to files that should be attached to the email.

Simply put, all I want is to be able to attach a file, Office, PDF, etc., from either my phone or SD card WITHIN the standard mail app. I SHOULD NOT have to go into the app for Office, or Acrobat Reader to send said file. I SHOULD NOT have to use a link to the file.

Alex Mason86 says:

Quite right Malcolm

Not being able to add any attachment to an already running email thread and being unable to do multiple attachments is a huge oversight. iOS doesnt let you do this either, not sure about Android though I would be suprised if not. This is a chance for MS to get one over and offer something genuinely useful, but they didn't.


dorep says:

I simply dont understand why wifi cannot be simple toggle button... i am so sad...  And there is no cellular data nor flashlight for toggle in the action center as well. Shame. All very simple features and still not available. They are more important than this Cortana...Very disappointed

It's not my just the toggle for data, what about network settings? Depending on where I am I turn off 3g and data etc!

And it's a shame there isn't a file manager of some description. I really wanted that, I hoped it might be there.

Otherwise this preview is awesome! Apart from the long install time (warranted for the massive update) it has genuinely refreshed my devices - my 1020, 1520 and even the lower tier 625 I'm writing this on seem to have had a shot in the arm: Much faster!

Overall excellent update. I'm getting used to the new keyboard (sorry for the length of the post) and am happy with most things.

I'm especially happy the auto correct capitalised the "I" now, wasn't doing that before (uk keyboard).

I guess open vpn is there, requiring an app purchase perhaps, and other than that it's nigh on complete. Minor quibbles aside. Bring on the formal release and the updates!

Thanks for the review!!!!

AnkitV says:

Yup no toggle for data connection! :O

Mitul Vasa says:

There is. Go to settings > mobile+sim > sim settings > 3G

I am downloading the update now, but one little minor thing I would like to see, although I don't think it is in the update is the ability to type in a contact by numbers to easy limit my search. (eg in the phone application typing 645 for a contact named "mike").

Still no glance for the icon :(

SwimSwim says:

That's a Nokia firmware thing. You'll have to wait for Nokia Cyan before you even have a chance of getting that.

StefEBear says:

It's actually a Hardware issue with the type screen they had to use.

Glance won't be going on the Icon/930 at all, not even with any firmware update.


SwimSwim says:

I don't like the fact that things like WiFi, Cellular Connection, Battery, Etc., don't hide anymore.

I appreciated that feature: because it kept things clean until I actually needed the information. Now? Just like Android. I'll live, but I am disappointed with this change.

Still, rest of the update is pretty solid, installing it now on both my 1020 and 520. Can't wait!!!

But this update is epic

While we was sat with our finger on check for update bet u was sat with yours on post.

WP 8.1 I LUV U

Almost done......and it will be woth the wait!!...hahaha @ 79%

There is a new cursor positioning when editing text which is much more accurate

Startswithaj says:

Meh. Removal of built-in Facebook chat and ACTUAL People hub integration(I don't see how a shortcut to launching Facebook is actually "integration" other than the link to the other app being integrated) is too bad. I really liked being able to chat with friends without having to open another app. Any clue why they removed it? Doesn't seem like it was broken...

Guess with all the features added something had to be cut, eh?

m_umair_85 says:

Because of this maybe?

Startswithaj says:

Thanks, think I missed that one. Also, was making assumptions about not having integrated Facebook in the me hub from the YouTube review of 8.1. Once I actually downloaded the update I found out I don't need the Facebook app to get notifications and update my status. That made me happy. Followed by shame for having posted before I actually had the update in my hands.

Diego Angeli says:

Nop, this was ridiculously broken. It was incredibly unreliable, did not sync with messages sent from other devices or web, drained out data and had serious problems staying connected all the time, specially because 3G signal may go up and down while you walk/get into elevator/tunels/buildings and it would not reconnect unless you forced it. 


Well, you got it. Never knew anyone who actualy used it for more than 3 days here in Brazil or US.

EcDumB says:

thanks Daniel.!! very informative article. installing now at 94% in my lumia 1320..

MaheshAdsul says:

What is the size of update. Anyone updated their L620.

I think it's about 300-400mb

wetworker says:

I'm currently installing the update. Sweet!

Ekon says:

Testing this new shape writing and I must say it is great!! When I had Android many years ago before windows 7 phone I loved Swype or whatever it was called but this feels much better then that and not a single typo at all! Great review Mr. Daniel.

pan_ani says:

Please tell me, Dan, if this improves battery backup in any way. I had the assumption that MSFT would fix this issue with a software update. Have you noticed it?

luke_grech1 says:

What about the new music and video apps? Have they been improved? I am mostly refraining from updating because of the removal of the Music+Video hub. Also, the removal of the built-in fb chat integration is a bummer :/

phaboman says:

Music App not improved at all. I'm quite frustrated actually. Especially because of the Store updates, there's no easy way to browse for music. Even when you're browsing in-app for "related artists" etc, half the time the content doesn't load or is just really slow.

hh_shan says:

The strange thing is I cant find Cortana in my 8.1 update in Lumia 720 :( is it not included?

spazzmeister says:

Change region to USA

WPC App for Android - Note 3

hh_shan says:

It's changed to USA but still I get the Bing search when I press the search button

I also didn't get it. I think you have to install US language stuff too, but probably need to hard reset the phone and pick US initially.

hh_shan says:

finally had it working..need to change the labguage to English (United States) and move it to the top of the language list. then after arester, you will have cortana in your app list :)

MaheshAdsul says:

I read sometime back that you can get Cortana by changing region to US.

hh_shan says:

Yess I also read that. but it I had to download the United States Language pack and apply is as default.. what I had was United Kingdom

hh_shan says:

Hey it working I changed the regional settings to USA and downloaded the language English (United States) and placed it at the top of the language list and made the phone language to English (United States)..then here came cortana :D

Hey I do it on my Samsung ativ s but cortana is missing?

hh_shan says:

The trick is you need to set the region and language to United States and English (United States) respectively. then restart the phone as it says, and you will have coratana :) when you change the language make sure Enligh (United States) is on the top of the list :) hope it helps

josipogo says:

Excelllent article just one short question, what kind of cable we will need for USB Projector Screen, is it some USB to HDMI or what?

davepacs says:

It says "updates cannot be downloaded" to me any idea?please?

elmacho says:

Installed and loving it :)

Sanin Bilic says:

da big one is updating yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


robnhl says:

Finally able to use the score menu on This alone makes the update worthwhile.

CraftedCrows says:

I'm getting me Nokia 630 when it launches :)

Installed on my l820. I love the fact that even though I have a smaller 4.3" screen I get the extra row of live tiles! The rest of the features i'm just now digging into but so far its great!

LTTG says:

Cortana is not available :( how can I activate it?? I set everything to US :((( PLEASE HELP

Panathas says:

Did you pushed the button "restart phone now"?

And did you put en as first language in the list?

ericr42 says:

On another thread, someone said you have to run it from the app list (not the search button) and accept terms.  Then it will work normally.  I am still installing so I can't confirm anything--just what someone else posted.

raiinman says:

Thank You and your team for all this hard work and keeping us up to date.

microhaxo#WP says:

On my 928 its a bit laggy.

philbert440 says:

There is a pre8.1 update for the Lumia 928 and it seems to be hung at 5% on the gears screen... hopefully it'll start moving again soon.... Just a heads up for any Lumia 928 owners out there...

Anyone tell me the update size

Has anyone noticed the new Windows Logo on the phone startup? it is like the original logo on windows 8 devices
oh and now i have to wait for 19 data migration phases "It will be worth the wait" they say lol

psychotron says:

Still don't understand all the hostility with some people concerning the transparent start screen. It's an option, people. Not like Microsoft is forcing it down your throats.

Ronnet says:

Downloading now. Still wish MS had added the option to let the customer decide whether the picture is placed behind transparant tiles are at the background like on Windows 8. Would have created more unity between the two systems as well as placec control in the hands of the customer.


Daniel keeps repeating that not everyone will like it. Microsoft has to be aware of this. People have been wanting regular backgrounds since day 1. Why not just give it to them? Even if they themselves believe there isnt enough room for it. I woudl gladly just add a blue theme background to spice things up. Anything is better than the black/white I've been staring at since 2011...

Robholden says:

I will say the same thing here as i did for the verge... this should be titled "Windows Phone 8.1 Preview Review"

False. For two reasons:

  1. This is the version Microsoft wanted the press to review
  2. The version we reviewed IS feature complete, there will be nothing added to the "final" version. You basically just downloaded that today

nickros182 says:

the preview is the full update.

psychotron says:

All you guys commenting "I Love You!" are kind of creeping me out. It's just a review, for goodness sake, calm down lol.

no cortana :(

even after changing region to US

7508887757 says:

Amazing review... Like it

7508887757 says:

Can anyone tell me how it is working on lumia 520

MilkyYoung says:

Will they add quick toggle for data?

chmun77 says:

Can we save PDF straight from web links and then share them now? I can't do that at all on WP8. The PDF reader is not having any share options, and I have no idea where the PDF file is downloaded to because I cannot see it under Office Hub as well.

kikimoki79 says:

It seems the secretive browsing isn't showing up on my IE 11... Was i suppose to enable it?

shuklashwin says:

How much is the update size?? The big one??

MaheshAdsul says:

I think its less than 500 mb.  I've just downloaded the update using Vodafone 3G. Now I am installing it.  Took atleast 20 minutes to download using Mobile broadband. L620

JohnStrk says:

Great write up and review Daniel, thanks!  

I agree about the Theme Accent color chooser. This is one thing I really wanted. Hopefully MS updates this soon.

yuvii007 says:

Are background tasks improved or not yet?can i download in background

wideawakezzz says:

Not sure if already reported - as so many comments.

I have just had to interupt my Lumia 920 update - on the gears install (the actual update, not pre) as my Lumia kept overheating (I had it charging on a wirless DT-900)

It automatically kept switching off, then starting process again.

I put in freezer 5 mins(dont get it wet!) and then plugged in with a standard charger.

Now appears to be updating normally  - and not getting red hot......

Maybe others expereince the same?




OMG *tosses nexus 7 in the trash and searches for lumia 920"

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

AngellaMath says:


Great review. I will use this as my guide for now.

mcherrick68 says:

Dan! Great review! Just downloaded 8.1 a few minutes ago, and am blown away! Cortana is so good ! I have been using WP since the 822 came out and have been using that device until a week ago when I bought a 928 on eBay for pretty cheap, great phone so far but this update takes it into the stratosphere! Been a WP fan since og Zune days, and couldn't imagine using any other mobile platform.

What's you're opinion of the 3 tile option? Have you used it on smaller screens? On my 928, the small tiles are pretty tiny, but still clickable, can't imagine using it on my 822. Personally, that's my favorite feature though. It's what I consider a game changer! The amount of info I can have on my screen at one time without scrolling literally changes the way I use my phone ! Who else agrees?

Just tried the smaller tiles on 1020. It's not bad but you see why 4.5" was not originally considered for 3 rows. Still, nice option to have.

AndyGriff says:

The jury's out, I think.  Needless to say, it was the first thing I did on my 920 after setting the tile backgrounds, but I'm tempted to say it's messed up what was quite a well-organized start screen (that I eventually settled on at the 478th attempt) so I'm half minded to change it back again.  Being a sad nerd, however, I'll spend this evening rearranging my start screen again and see if I get used to it.

gravage says:

All this and no .gif support. *sigh*

Awesome... Microsoft always rocks!!;

wetworker says:

One of the most important tasks they need to do is update or fix is the Zune desktop client.
They should just re-brand it as Xbox Music Pro or whatever and make it the default media player on Windows desktops and Notebooks. RT and pro tablets users can then install the gimped down Xbox Music app that's in the Windows store if they need it.

The Zune software had so much going for it. The software is still one of the best designed UI out there, Wireless sync, a place to organize all your media, as well as doing regular backups. 

Now I know they are trying to push people to the cloud but those of us who have massive media collection, 400GB of music in my case, the new Xbox Music app is just not good enough. Plus there are a lot of independent materials that will never be available on Xbox Music.   I can count on one hand how many times I've use the Xbox Music app , it's too cumbersome to use.

Fallow this link, vote and make some noise about this issue, hopefully we make enough noise to make them take a second look at updating the Zune client

sdreamer says:

8.1 is all ups. Still a few things missing though like album creation in the photo app and allowing dining mode to be toggle by more than just Bluetooth. Overall it's just minor things at this point compared to a list of major items. The wallpaper thing is still not something I like because not all of my tiles use accent color, wish they put it behind the tiles and just added a little transparency.

RoyalAdonis says:

Can you finally exit from Internet explorer, come back to it, and press the "back" button to go to the previous web page you were on, instead of going back to the start screen? That's my biggest pet peeve with Windows Phone.

hprvez says:

Yes, or you can just swipe

Etios says:

Apart from all these features, Microsoft has also worked on UI transition and animations as everything is faster in 8.1 than 8.0.


It remind me of a deep relationship! A child(720) says thank you mamma(NOKIA) and papa(MICROSOFT) for giving me such a wonderful gift.

I liked the way you covered the major features reviews and i know you did lots of homework worht appreciative! However, I am damn sure about the last conclusion about the non WP users, they seriously need to switch! lol.

Also, I was not ready to opt for WP dev preview, but i am not waiting anymore. Here i come!

Namaste form INDIA. 

davidaddison says:

Excellent and thorough review.  I was able to read it while my 1520 was updating.

@Daniel - How do you do the smooth pan down in the beginning of your videos?  Is that done manually by a camera person or is that a video editing feature in post?  If the latter, then what do you use?

(Today will be a low productivity day.)

That's Mark Guim, who writes and does video for our site. He uses a Canon DSLR for video and pans with my Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod (he brought his own ballhead, which has the video arm).

majohnny says:

That will hopefully shut up all those slow news haters

majohnny says:

This flow keyboard really is one of the best I've ever seen

lippidp says:

Great article and only one typo! Thanks for the bit about Cortana privacy.

Odd side notes: Only the regular Facebook app will interact with WP 8.1 (beta doesn't hook in) WPcentral app isn't playing nice with WP 8.1 either.

besides less features cause of being non-US, phone is now functioning slow like Android ICS! 820 has become 420!!

deojames says:

yah! even my phone (620) seems to be slow a little bit

is OTG support there?

lewiedude says:

Am I able to perform all of the required functions on my L920? I got the email which tells me that I have to download the certificate onto my phone, and when I click it, I get the download arrow in IE and then an error stating that it can't download the file.

omagic82 says:

What happened to the new kinds of lockscreen animations? Are they not on this preview?

omagic82 says:

UPDATE: I have confirmed that the new lockscreens shown at BUILD are not in this dev preview build.

t8ntlikly says:

I keep getting the following "We are currently unable to check for updates." (80072ee7)

Any ideas out there


Son1ccoders says:

Servers are more then likely swamped. I had the same error. After 30mins of trying it foundthe update.

The review might not cover everything but a top top article from a top top writer. Thank you.

PapiHenry says:

Damn Good Article Daniel, it was understood you were running 8.1 for a while but now I Understand the magnitude of the update. Great job writing, reviewing, and conveying 8.1. People always like to bash and not enough credit is given when deserved, so a very well deserved kudos to you. Installing update now, after installing an update to get the phone ready for 8.1. Gears are grinding and almost complete after about 30 minutes. So play time is almost here.

Pranjal Rai says:

Can anyone tell me the approx. Size of the update? Please.

deojames says:

the whole update is near 400mb.

1. first part <5mb

2. second part about 360mb

Preparing to install !!!!  96% !!!  :D

Joeul_Ramos says:

* sheds tears of joy *

2tomtom says:

Awesome article, just read it and will download later today when I get to my WiFi and wireless charger.

Thanks WPC for the detailed coverage of 8.1, have read it all so ready to go after downloaded. Awesome, thanks again :-)

karlosintic says:

Will I lose warranty if I update to developer preview?

Son1ccoders says:

Installed! Took around 1 hour.
Runs fine on the Lumia 520 and generally feels a lot faster!

Niavlys77 says:

What can Cortana do when you have no internet connection? Does voice recognition still work? That was one thing about TellMe that really bothered me.

Sin Ogaris says:

I've just gone to the games Hub... I REALLY don't like the new system and I think we can all safely agree that any hopes people had for Xbox Live on WP have been squashed. Maybe I'm doing something wrong but they have removed all acheivement and avatar information from the games hub, it's now just a boring old list, they haven't even kept the Xbox Live seperation, or the three recent games played (which I used a LOT personally).

Well, I guess they can't get everything right.

Seven_PRX says:

I was really looking forward to the Quick Buttons in the Action center - but am quite disappointed those can only be set to a pre-selected set. I use none of them, except WiFi. Huge let-down actually.

I hope they will change this, so you can select any app and/or system setting. Personally I would have put Alarms there, and WiFi. And perhaps another App or 2 for quick access, but that's about it. Not sure what good the other options supplied are - I don't know anybody who is turning off/on the rest of the settings on a regular basis. A real missed chance.

Also, Background Agent settings seem to be gone?

Love the new weekly view in calendar, and the notfication center.

One note about that: it seems you can't set the settings per app yet, if that app hasn't sent a notification at least once. Otherwise it simply won't show up in the list.

Also: once you have selected a notification in action center, for example WhatsApp - it opens the app, and you see your message. Makes sense. But: the notification is removed from Action Center. Makes sense to some people, and with some apps. I would like to have the choice though to keep all notifications, until I select Clear all, manually.

Tried the new 3 columns (or whatever you want to call it), but on my L920 I thought the icons just because too small. Might be good on a 5" device though.

Like the new volume controls, except one thing: why did they group Notifications & Ringer?

That makes no sense to me: for ringer, I want to set it to 10 - missing calls is a problem. But at volume 10, the notification sounds are WAY too loud and I jump up every time one goes off. Hope they can either move Notifcations to the Media group, or make a 3rd slider. Also: I still think it would be nice if we could make different Profiles, that would be quicker than moving the slider along. Also, some things you can't do with the sliders, like set sounds off for Apps, like messenger apps.

I would have made 3 profiles myself:

1) Normal: Ringer & all app/system sounds on.

2) Off: no sounds whatsoever

3) Standby: all sounds off, except Ringer.


txDrum says:

Maybe somebody can answer for me: How do you get those awesome lockscreens??

omagic82 says:

I posted about that same thing myself. I want the lockscreen animations shown at the BUILD keynote. They don't appear to be in this preview, I suppose.

UPDATE: I confirmed that the new lockscreens shown at BUILD are not in this dev preview build.

This is what I'd call tech journalism. Very well done Dan.

Appreciate the comments! Makes the sleepless nights easier.

rubenwidjaja says:

the photos now lagging when appear my photos

I don't really like music, video and games hub. It's kinda force me to connect to the internet.

Well beside that, I like all new improvement


How do i enable " automatic download pics in email " option ? This was something i was eagely waiting for and would make my email experience way much better !

Diego Angeli says:

This review reviewed what was already reviewed. 


What about live tile updates? Are they finally "live"?

Multitasking is now a real multitasking? Will it save where i left of? Will it keep all apps that I opened in the multitask screen?

Are the notifications more reliable?

Is the stupid gigantic banner not appearing anymore when i'm watching a full screen video or playing a game?

What about the music app. Did it become a real usable app?

May I now filter my contacts by "contacts that I have the phone number"?

Quiet hours and other messaging settings are able to be activated with WhatsApp/Viber/Skype/whateverIwant?

Wireless sync? Or any real update coming to the crapy sync program/app for W8.1?

Cortana activation by a key word instead of pressing a button? There is no point on a voice assistant if you have to touch your phone anyway.

BT connection working better? Will it start playing a song when connecting?


Just to name a few things that were commented before but nobody ever said yes or no if they are there

LDemetriadi says:

action center cant find any of the apps like instagram facebook and snapchat, only the normal ones like email and messanging, any help?


Seven_PRX says:

They show up once they have made a notification. So, if you get a notification once in FB for example, then when you go back to the action center settings, you do see the app. i think they should have just displayed all your apps there to start with.

Jaco Ra says:

I'm convinced, battery life is greatly improved on my 920 with 8.1

Music live tile is gone though.. Sucks

devize says:

Spinning cogs of death!!!! please install. how long did it take everyone?

devize says:

yess! it lives. bring on wp 8,1

SMac11 says:

Love the new background image option. Is there any way to use the transparent tile for the new Music Tile? I'm not a fan of the "Xbox Green"...Possibly using a 3rd party app? Same question for the Photos tile...

Jaco Ra says:

I doubt it. It's a shame cause the music tile isn't live anymore, no artist image

scdkad says:

Very dumb to eliminate that feature.