We didn’t expect Microsoft to talk much about Windows Phone 8.1 at its press and analyst event ahead of the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, and the company has stuck to that, although it did offer a clue of what to expect. More information on the update is expected to be revealed at the company’s own BUILD conference in April. Windows Phone VP Joe Belfiore says that Microsoft will “technically” support all existing Windows Phone 8 devices when the update drops this spring, he didn’t refer to it as Windows Phone 8.1.
Belfiore mentioned the changes also include support for Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 400 and 400 LTE chips, which means that OEMs will now be able to make even cheaper WP phones. Microsoft is also going to remove the restriction of adding three physical buttons on every device, instead they will be replaced by on-screen buttons. Belfiore says that these steps will enable Windows Phone to gain more momentum, particularly in emerging markets, which are currently dominated by Android. Microsoft will also open up support for installing apps on microSD cards, thus allowing OEMs to ship phones with lower memory, further driving down costs. Another change that may drive growth in emerging markets in dual-SIM support. Microsoft will offer “total user control” of this feature, devices will display separate Live Tiles for each SIM.
Microsoft’s worldwide OEM team head Nick Parker announced revised list of manufacturers committed to making WP phones, the list includes newcomers and existing partners such as Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Foxconn, Huawei, ISR, Lenovo, Karbonn, LG, ZTE, Xolo and Longcheer. Its up to these OEMs to reveal when they’re going to release new WP devices, Microsoft itself won’t be making any hardware related announcements at MWC 2014, as expected.