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Microsoft Prepping Windows Phone 8 'GDR3' Update

Windows Phone 8 Update 3, known internally as "GDR3" or "general distribution release 3," is on its way toward release.

Microsoft indicated this week that Update 3 "initially kicks off in the coming weeks and will continue over several months," according to a blog post attributed to Darren Laybourn, corporate vice president of Windows Phone. As with past Windows Phone 8 updates, the timing of when users actually receive Update 3 will depend on the model of their devices and the release schedules of their carriers. Windows Phone 8's last update, GDR2, rolled out to users this past summer.

One of Microsoft's top goals with Update 3 was to expand Windows Phone 8's support for new devices, according to Laybourn's post. To that end, Update 3 will support larger devices with 5- to 6-inch screens and 1080p HD displays. Instead of a maximum of four Live Tiles in one row on the Start screen, Update 3 will let users fit as many as six Live Tiles in a row.

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release Windows Phone 8.1 (code-named "Blue") in 2014. If rumors bear out, Windows Phone 8.1 will support even larger devices than Update 3 -- devices with 7- to 10-inch screens, according to one report by SuperSite for Windows' Paul Thurrott. Officially, Microsoft has not revealed any information about Windows Phone 8.1.

Other improvements coming to Update 3 include:

  • New storage management features, including a "category view" setting that gives users a breakdown of their storage usage
  • The ability to easily turn a Windows Phone 8 device into a mobile hotspot for Windows 8.1 tablets and PCs
  • A set of "Mobile Accessibility" apps for users that are visually or hearing impaired
  • A"Driving Mode" setting designed to eliminate unnecessary notifications while users are driving
  • Out-of-the-box Wi-Fi capability
  • The ability to assign different ringtones to different functions or contacts

Microsoft also on Monday launched Windows Phone Preview for Developers. The program would allow registered Windows Phone developers with "developer-unlocked" devices to access the pre-release versions of Windows Phone updates before they become generally available.

The program's aim is to give developers time to test how their apps work with the new updates, according to this blog post by Cliff Simpkins, product manager for Windows Phone Developer Experience at Microsoft.

Simpkins' blog also gave a few details about what developers can expect with Windows Phone Update 3. "There are no new APIs in the update, and so there won't be a corresponding Windows Phone SDK for this update," he noted. Additionally: "There shouldn't be any explicit action required by the vast majority of app developers; there is nothing that you have to do to your apps to make them run on Windows Phone 8 Update 3."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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