Last week Joe Belfiore (Manager for Windows Phone Program Management at Microsoft) addressed 5,000 Microsoft developers announcing what’s next for Windows phones, PCs and tablets with two major updates: Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1. Both releases include exciting new features for consumers and businesses alike and are built from the feedback we’ve heard from customers along the way.

Windows Phone will soon be delivering true enterprise grade security with the 8.1 update, FREE for all current Windows 8 devices. Increased MDM options, improved calendar and data, battery, and storage management will be a reality.

Start Screen: Make the Live Tiles Yours

Windows Phone Start screen can genuinely reflect your personality and the people and things you care about — so with 8.1 it’s getting even more customisable.

In 2013, a third column was added to devices for 5-inch screen or larger devices to enable more stuff to show up on the screen. People really liked this so going to be enabled on all screen sizes in Windows Phone 8.1. Also added will be the ability to customise your Start background with a favourite picture or one of the options provided, which will make many of the tiles on your Start screen become clear so you can see the background you selected as you scroll up and down.

Lock screen: Lots of new “themes” to choose from

The Lock screen is the very first thing you see when you grab your phone, and in Windows Phone 8.1 a new app that lets you set a wide range of interesting “Lock Screen Themes” which show all kinds of different visuals and animations will be provided.

Cortana: Your PERSONAL Digital Assistant

Of everything announced, Microsoft are really excited to introduce the world’s first truly personal digital assistant. Inspired by the popular character from Halo who served as a brilliant AI and a deeply personal digital assistant to Master Chief… so they called her Cortana.
Powered by Bing, Cortana is the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behaviour and checking in with you before she makes assumptions. She tracks the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you.

A Whole Slew of New Delighters

  • Action Centre

Live Tiles are a great way to “glance and go,” and now with Action Centre you can see notifications from ANY app – pinned or not—and to give you a customisable way to quickly access the settings you care about most, like Wi-Fi, Flight Mode and Bluetooth.

  • Word Flow Keyboard

The keyboard in Windows Phone is smart enough to learn your writing style. Best of all, our new Word Flow Keyboard lets you glide your fingers over the keys to type incredibly quickly. Forget Swype, Word Flow is now officially the world’s fastest keyboard.

  • Skype

The new Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 brings the best of Skype on a smartphone. It’s integrated with the Phone dialer, so if you’re on a call you can quickly and easily “upgrade” your ordinary phone call to a Skype video call at the tap of a button! And… the new Skype app is designed to work seamlessly with Cortana, once it’s available in the UK, so you can use Cortana to setup your calls within Skype, just like a real phone operator.

  • Calendar

The new Calendar has been redesigned to add a new week view which many users have been asking for and it has many nice touches—like panning right to get to the next day or week or month! What’s more, it looks a lot like Outlook on your Windows PC… for example, the weather is integrated at the top – just like in Outlook.

  • Music & Video

A ton of improvements have been made to these experiences, which are now split out as separate apps and all of which can be updated via the Store. In Music, you can edit your playlists and manage your cloud collection really easily and effectively. Video makes it possible to buy or rent videos from Xbox Music. Also improved are the phone volume controls by including separate sliders for your ringer/notifications and for your apps and media.

Data Sense, Wi-Fi Sense, Storage Sense, and Battery Saver

A number of features in Windows Phone 8.1 have been added that are designed to help you get the most out of your data allowance, battery life and storage.

  • Data Sense

It lets you track how much data usage you go through in a given month and will give you a breakdown of usage by app so you can see which app is using the most of your data. As you near your data limit, Data Sense will more aggressively offload data to Wi-Fi and limit mobile data usage… and in 8.1 there’s a new “high savings” mode that cranks up the compression of images as you browse the web so you can browse even faster using less data than WP8.

  • WiFi Sense

It will automatically connect you to free public hotspots it finds to help you save mobile data. And, if you’d like, you can opt-in to automatically and securely enable your friends and contacts to auto-connect to your home Wi-Fi, so they can use the internet connection at your house without hassling you for the password and typing it in manually. If you turn off Wi-Fi in Wi-Fi Sense, you can have Cortana automatically turn it back on when you reach one of your favourite places as identified in Cortana.

  • Storage Sense

Introducing Storage Sense to help you get the most out of the memory and storage on your phone. It will help you manage content you have on an SD memory card if your device supports those. You can also move content – like apps, music, photos – between the storage built in to your device and an SD memory card.

  • Battery Saver

Battery Saver gives you a clear breakdown of how apps are using your battery so you can make more informed usage decisions. With “automatic mode” enabled, our tests have shown when the battery is at 20%, we give people approximately 24 hours more battery life.

Great for Business Users and IT Managers

Windows has long been the choice for the enterprise and professionals. Windows Phone fits easily and seamlessly into a corporate ecosystem making it easier to work when you are on the go. Last year, PC Magazine’s readers selected Nokia Lumia/Windows Phones as the Business Choice Award for smartphones by scoring them the highest in end-user satisfaction.

With Windows Phone 8.1, we’re making it even easier for IT professionals to manage devices and for professionals to connect to essential business apps and services with features such as customizable MDM enrollment, support for loads more MDM policies, LOB application & certificate management, S/MIME and VPN support.

Check out the Microsoft Business Blog here to read more about enterprise features in the both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. Update.

Sounds Great! When Can I Get It?

Windows Phone 8.1 will be available to all Windows Phone 8 device owners in the UK over the next few months.

If you would like more information, a demonstration or you would like to discuss implementing Windows Phone within your business call us today on 0800 652 4133.