Windows Phone 8.1 is official. The first native WP8.1 handsets arrive this month, and owners of existing devices have been able to start working with the platform thanks to Microsoft’s Preview for Developers program. But what of those current WP8 users who aren’t feeling too confident about registering as a dev and installing pre-release software? When will they be able to join the WP8.1 party? Back when Microsoft unveiled the platform in early April, it said to expect OTA updates for existing phones to arrive “in the next few months.” We still don’t have any firm dates there, but today we do learn about one interesting milestone along that path, as Microsoft sets its lifecycle start date for Windows Phone 8.1.
The lifewhatnow? Microsoft commits to a certain length of software support for its platforms. For Windows Phone, that used to be 18 months, but the release of WP8 bumped it up to 36 months. The lifecycle date is what the company uses as the start point for calculating how long support should last. In this case, the WP8.1 start date is June 24.
Does that mean that we won’t see any 8.1 OTA updates until then? Well, no. For instance, we saw the first WP7.8 updates start arriving in late January 2013, but the official 7.8 lifecycle start date wasn’t until February 8 of that year. So chances are, we’ll also see 8.1 updates start arriving in advance of June 24. We’d love to see them quite a bit before that, and we still may, but we’ll have to wait for a new leak before we start getting a sense of just when.