Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 Developer

I wish Microsoft's Windows Buzz 8.1 developer bits

The rumors were right: Today, April 14, is the day Microsoft is authoritative the developer adaptation of its Windows Buzz 8.1 operating arrangement about accessible to developers.

The 8.1 developer examination is slated to be reside by 8 a.m. ET/5 a.m. PT today. Even admitting this is a developer preview, anyone accommodating to assurance up (for free) as a developer can download the $.25 to their phones. (Both and the Windows Supersite accept acquaint instructions on how to do this.)

I've had the near-final developer examination $.25 active on a Nokia Lumia Icon loaner buzz from Microsoft for the accomplished week-plus. Microsoft provided these $.25 to a few reviewers and columnist folk so they could put the hundreds (literally) of new appearance — and abnormally Cortana, Microsoft's new agenda claimed abettor — in this OS absolution through its paces.

I accept I've been a big Cortana agnostic aback affairs for it leaked a year ago. I was careful about how abundant I'd wish and use Cortana already I saw Microsoft advisers audience it at the Build 2014 appearance the aboriginal anniversary of April. Would I absolutely anytime allocution to my phone? Would I wish my buzz analytic my email, contacts, and agenda and autumn that advice about me? And would it be just way too awful to see an "ask your sister about her cat" admonition pop up if I alleged her?

Over the accomplished week, my use of Cortana has confused above aggravating to get it to activate agreeable chit-chat to application it to do tasks on my account added easily. I've acclimated Cortana to set alarms, accomplish reminders, adapt for a even cruise and acquisition bounded diners accessible aboriginal on Sunday. These are all searches I could do after Cortana, but Cortana fabricated them easier and quicker. As bags of developers, and ultimately, Windows Buzz users, alpha application Cortana, its after-effects should improve, accustomed added abstracts will be fabricated accessible to Bing on the aback end.

I'm animated there's a best of accepting able to allege or blazon my queries with Cortana. By habit, I about never allege to my buzz alfresco the borders of my own home. Yes, I reside in New York City area humans allocution to themselves on the street, subway, and in added accessible places. But I'm not adequate accomplishing that.

There are two agency users can "wake up" Cortana: By acute the committed seek button or by activating the Cortana app/tile. Users who wish no allotment of Cortana or who are in markets area it's not accurate will still be able to use Bing for Web and accessory searches. Currently, Cortana is accessible in examination anatomy alone for US users. It will plan if users set their regions to US and accent to English, but those alfresco the US will not get the aforementioned experience, aback abounding of the Bing-powered Cortana appearance (like places-related reminders) will not plan right, according to Microsoft officials.

One of the key affidavit that seek is added advantageous in the Windows Buzz 8.1 absolution is because the OS enables accessory search. This agency users can acquisition email, argument messages, contacts, settings, appointments, music, and apps that are on their phones application a simple seek query. (Email accessories and Office Hub files aren't covered by accessory seek at the moment.)

As I've been a Windows Buzz user for the accomplished few years, I can't acknowledgment how Cortana endless up adjoin Apple's Siri or Google Now. From what I've apparent and apprehend about those agenda assistants, I'd say Microsoft has approved to bang a average ground, adopting some Siri elements and some Google Now elements. Application the articulation of Jen Taylor, who is the articulation of the Cortana able abettor appearance in the Halo bold series, is a nice branding touch. (Taylor is in the bosom recording added responses for Windows Phone, and users/testers will apprehend her articulation added as those are phased in over time.)

Cortana isn't the alone new affection in the Windows Buzz 8.1 (codenamed "Blue") release. There are new Alpha and lock-screen customizations available. (See my Alpha awning at left, which shows off the adeptness to accept a account as the accomplishments angel abaft the tiles.)

There's aswell a new Action Center/notification center. Users can adapt a scattering of quick settings for Wifi, Camera, and Bluetooth, additional see a account of notifications from/about their apps. Users just bash down from the Windows Buzz alpha awning to see and admission these settings/notifications. I didn't acquisition myself defective or application the Action Centermost abundant over the accomplished week. The adapted agenda is a lot easier to use than the accepted Windows Buzz calendar, with alternate day, anniversary and ages views, forth with chip weather.

There's aswell a abundant added Chat Flow Keyboard included as allotment of the Windows Buzz 8.1 release. Microsoft advisers showed off this keyboard, and its new "shape writing" that lets users skip accounting alone characters and instead coast their feel over keys in a connected motion to access text, agnate to the way Swype works. I've approved application this a bit in the accomplished week-plus. It absolutely takes some accepting acclimated to. At the moment, I still blazon added accurately and allegedly after application appearance writing, but I could see myself application this added already I accept time to alternation myself on it.

Check out Windows Buzz 8.1 awning attempt arcade

For business users, Windows Buzz 8.1 is a huge footfall up from the accepted Windows Buzz releases. Microsoft admiral said a year ago to apprehend the aggregation to add aback to Windows Buzz a amount of the action appearance it alone if it confused from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone. They said they'd do this via an action pack. Instead, they are authoritative accessible these capabilities as a congenital allotment of the Windows Buzz 8.1 OS itself.

Enterprise VPN, acknowledging IPsec and SSL VPN gateways, is congenital in. Action Wi-Fi, acquiescent by mobile-device-management systems, is congenital in, as well. Certificate management, S/MIME abutment for defended email, the adeptness to lock down abstracts in OneDrive via information-rights-management software and behavior are all there, too. There's a chargeless mobile-device-management adviser accessible for download from Microsoft that data these new action features. There's aswell a downloadable adviser absorption on aegis enhancements in Windows Buzz 8.1.

What's next? New Windows Phones with Windows Buzz 8.1 congenital in should activate debuting in backward spring/early summer and carriers should alpha blame Windows Buzz 8.1 to absolute Windows Buzz users this summer, as well. Again, users who don't wish to delay for their carriers can download the developer bits. Chat is that Microsoft affairs to abide to amend Windows Buzz 8.1 with assorted GDR/updates during this agenda year, the aforementioned way it did with Windows Buzz 8.

There's no chat from Microsoft if the aggregation will accommodate Cortana into Windows applicant and Xbox, but this is accepted to appear possibly by next year.

Bottom line: Windows Buzz 8.1 is a ample and acceptable update. Cortana is added fun and advantageous than I advancing but not a analgesic feature/app for me..