Windows Phone 8.1 promises to make a number of big changes to Microsoft’s smartphone platform. We’ve already seen evidence showing the move away from mandatory hardware buttons, in favor of on-screen virtual alternatives, we could finally get a full-fledged notification center, and its launch could mark the arrival of Microsoft’s Cortana voice-assist service. Suffice it to say, we’re excited. We’ve been talking about a release sometime this spring, but just when can we actually hope to see updates start going out? The always plugged-in Mary Jo Foley has been talking about Microsoft’s plans, and reports that a late April launch might be the earliest we could hope to see the update’s release.
She mentions WP8.1 likely being released to manufacturers in late March or early April, just prior to Microsoft’s Build conference. Devs could get early access around that time, but public distribution would still take another few weeks, minimum.
Foley also discusses Windows 8.1 Update 1, and the bit we’re most interested in pertains to how it relates to Windows Phone. While there were previous expectations of seeing API changes that would further bring Windows and Windows Phone closer together as platforms, supposedly that’s no longer in the cards for this update, and any move towards consolidation would still be further down the line. Rumors suggest that Windows 8.1 Update 1 may be released on March 11.