updated 08:46 am EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Windows Phone update to 8.1 adds Cortana, may void warranties
Windows Phone 8.1 is now available to download as a developer preview, allowing users to try out the Cortana virtual assistant on their own devices. The latest version of the mobile operating system, which Microsoft officially debuted on April 2nd at its Build conference, can be installed on smartphones owned by developers enrolled in Microsoft's Windows Phone Developer program.
There are a few ways to prepare for the download, including one that is free. The Verge reports that registering as a developer under App Studio and creating a project will register the user for the Windows Phone 8.1 update, though the Microsoft Dev Center notes that those registered under the $19 Windows Phone Developer program, and those that have "developer unlocked" their phone will also be able to install it.
Windows Phone 8.1
Microsoft does warn that installing Windows Phone 8.1 may void warranties from the carrier and manufacturer, that the update only includes the Microsoft portion of the update and not manufacturer driver updates, and that the smartphone cannot be reverted back to its previous operating system state. When Windows Phone 8.1 is generally released, devices with the developer preview installed can be brought forward to the final version.
Windows Phone 8.1 adds Cortana, a voice-activated virtual assistant in the vein of Siri that tries to ascertain more details and provide contextually-relevant information based on information in e-mails, calendars, and from its "notebook" file. Custom lock screens with application interfacing will also appear in the update, as well as a new Action Center for notifications and quick access to frequently-accessed phone features.