Preview for Developers

All you need to know about the Windows Phone 8.1 'Preview for Developers'

Last week, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1 to the world. We gave you numerous video tours of the OS, and we’re sure you watched Joe Belfiore's on stage demonstration of Cortana. Microsoft also announced that the Preview for Developers Program will go live for 8.1 "sometime in April". That program will allow you to install the 8.1 update early on any Windows Phone 8 device. Every. Single. One.

What is this program? How can you prepare for it before it arrives? Head past the break for all you need to know!

What exactly is the 'Preview for Developers' Program?

Back in June 2012, Microsoft revealed plans for the ‘enthusiast program’ for Windows Phone fans.  It was during the Windows Phone 8.0 announcement and many people here on this site were tantalized by the prospect of getting updates earlier and faster than carriers.

That’s what the Program is for. It’s labeled ‘Preview for Developers’ but in reality, it’s for anyone with a Windows Phone 8 device, as the barriers to participate are extremely low (more on that below). Microsoft is well aware that carriers tend to drag their feet on updates, so this is their way around that roadblock. It’s a sly move as Microsoft actually wants you to use this Program.

Unfortunately, details were sparse at the time of the announcement in 2012. Sparse as in there was just one line in a PowerPoint presentation that mentioned it. Fast forward 18 months later and Microsoft finally got the Program setup, just in time for Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (and before fans nearly revolted).

Will it run on my...

Yes! Lumia 520, Lumia 525, Lumia 620, Lumia 1520, HTC 8X, Samsung ATIV can 'Preview' 8.1 on all of these phones and get all the same features, even Cortana. Cortana is only available in the US? Change your region or just use the default Bing search like now.

Is this a hack or will it damage my phone?

No, this is not a hack. It’s still an over-the-air update that is pushed by Microsoft. Technically speaking, things could go wrong, just like with any OS update. In reality, we have had zero complaints or problems reported to us with the previous Preview for Developers. Literally zero. Even Microsoft confirms the same, with almost 185,000 people participating in the program. So yes, it’s safe.

But be advised, there is no “rolling back” the OS. Then again, we’re not sure why you would want to.

Will it erase your phone?

Nope. It’s an over-the-air update that will only update/refresh the OS. Your apps, games, contacts, photos and even settings should remain the same. This will not wipe your phone.

Will it void your warranty?

It depends. It’s actually up to your carrier or the manufacturer who made your phone. To be honest, we don’t have much to go on here because we have had no reports come in to serve as a test case. As far as we know, no one’s phone has been damaged enough to warrant this action. Even still, you do have the Microsoft support forums should any problems arise. Likewise, Nokia is pretty darn good for service.

Keep in mind, once the “official” update goes out, your phone will look the same as someone who just waited for the update, meaning it will be impossible to tell it from any off-the-shelf phone with 8.1 installed. All phones are equal, post official update. That leads us to…

What’s the difference between this and the official update?

There are technically two parts when it comes to official updates:

  1. An OS update aka Windows Phone 8.1 build xxxx.xxxx
  2. A firmware update specific for your phone and carrier (if sold through one)

The OS update is universal; it works across all devices and, for all intents and purposes the Preview for Developers is the same OS update as the official release. This is not a beta version of the OS.

The one difference is the Preview for Developers does not include new firmware.

All the firmware does is enable some device-specific functions, most notably new camera improvements on Nokia devices or the new SensorCore APIs, which will come with the Lumia Cyan update. With the OS update though, you’ll still get 100% of the all the 8.1 features announced, you’ll just keep your current firmware.

What happens when 8.1 officially rolls out for your phone and carrier?

Basically, nothing. Nothing in the good sense. Your phone will get the same update, but unless the OS is different, the only thing that will be updated is your firmware. After the update, you’ll be on the same page as everyone else.

In other words, you risk not a thing by doing this.

How do you signup?

If you’re already a Windows Phone developer, then you don’t need to do anything except download the app (see below). If you’re just a regular person without an ounce of coding skill, then you can sign up for Microsoft’s App Studio:

Cost? $0

Just sign in with your Microsoft ID and let them register your email address. That’s it.

Next, you need the Preview for Developers App for your phone, and you probably need to have Update 3 already installed, though we’re sure most of you already do.

Get the Preview for Developers App

Now that you are a registered ‘developer’ with Microsoft, you need to download the app to your phone. This app, published by Microsoft, lets your phone register with Microsoft so that they can send you the OS bits.

QR: Preview for developers

Run the app, sign in with the same Microsoft ID you registered with App Studio and check the box that says ‘Enable Preview for Developers’. Likewise, you can always uncheck that box and unregister that device.

Watch the above embedded video to see it all in action!

When will you get Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers?

Microsoft has not announced a specific date, just a timeframe of April. All we can say: pay attention to our site as we’ll be the first to tell you when it is live.

Once it’s live, you head into your device Settings > Phone Update > Check for updates. The OS update will begin downloading immediately, and the program will walk you through the process (note: it’s the same process as every other Windows Phone over-the-air update).

You’ll want to have a battery with at least 50% charge and have access to Wi-Fi, as OS updates can be large – too large for some carriers. Also, you should have at least 1 GB of storage space available, as that update has to be downloaded and unpacked somewhere!

When will you get the official 8.1 update with new firmware?

It will be contingent on your carrier and phone manufacturer. Since this will be like previous updates, you can expect a rolling schedule spanning a few weeks to even months as each carrier has their own time frame. From past experience, we’d push this out as far as July and August for some of you, with the Lumia 810 on T-Mobile probably not getting it at all (blame T-Mobile).

Anyway, hope this quick guide helps. Prepare now so you’ll be ready whenever Microsoft throws the switch!

Want to learn what’s in Windows Phone 8.1? Check out our features page or head into our 8.1 forums where you can discuss what’s new!


Reader comments

All you need to know about the Windows Phone 8.1 'Preview for Developers'



...and no, this article does not mean we expect the update today or even tomorrow. Don't read into things, this is just for reference for when it does go live, nothing more.

Nope not ,because you're phone runs on windows phone 7/7.8 platform, you just need to buy a windows phone 8 device. Like the Lumia 720 the succesor to your phone, or if you want to keep it small the 620 or 520/5 ;)

Sorry, Sam. I'm hijacking your comment here to answer the article.
According to my experience, if we bring the phone directly to NCC(Nokia Care Center), the warranty was not void at that time (I use GDR2 back then ... or 3 ... dunno, the one that available around early November). I don't know about carrier case though.

How is an 1100 word how-to guide on how this program bait? I'm guessing you don't know how people think, or that not everyone knows what this program is/how it works...

I'm trying to avoid the flood of questions people have about this before it goes live, not during or after.

Dan, at this point, you should probably expect at least a few butthurt readers to comment on your articles (and only your articles) :D

Can you please link users to forum sticky in WP8.1 about "What exactly is developer preview?" if they want to discuss or need help on the D-day, please please?

Lol. I was wondering why you didn't get credit. They usually do give notice to those who do popular topics. Oh well, its a good read for those who still don't know.

For poor sods like me on the Lumia 810, there is a step by step guide in the 810 Forums to get Preview for Developers. I love GDR3 on my 810 and will be definitely updating my out of warranty 810 to WP8.1 as soon as it is out for Developers....

Yea, I got a sorry 810 as well. I had to buy it 2nd-hand off of ebay, as tmobile didn't offer it anymore, and I wanted something smaller, and less expensive than the 925, but not as crappy as the 521. The 925 was priced at $450, and my 810 was $150. So I opted for the 810, which I do love, I just hate tmobile for dropping support, and updates for it. I had the same problem with the Nokia Astound. I got that, and nearly 3-4 into it, they dropped support for it, and I didn't get the update, and actualy updated it with a Custom ROM for the C7.

So I'm glad that I got the developer preview app, and will definitely be updating to 8.1.

Thanks Dan, I was planning on updating but was slightly worried, so it was good to read this in advance. 

"I'm trying to avoid the flood of questions people have about this before it goes live, not during or after."

Too late. Have you seen the forums??? ;-) So many questions about this that have been answered numerous times.

THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS UP!!!! Can we sticky this across ALL the forums? Can you code the forums if anyone posts a topic asking about this, they automatically get slapped? ;-)

You really need to grow a skin! There are plenty of indexed articles here already on the WP8 Developer Preview program. This latest one is great for people unable to use the search facility, and possibly better written. Well done Danno, you're a very good boy.

Dan, you read my mind. I have been searching the forums and posts here for tips in the last two hours. I got as far as the app download. Then I bottled it, was worried that the 8.1 OS would not play well with the existing firmware from my carrier (EE/Orange). After your post, I have taken the plunge, I'm all in.

First update done.... It had ...55 at the end. Roll on 8.1. I will add, that it may be prudent to shift your data first, for safe keeping and also it may speed up the migrating data bit. Kudos to you for a well written how to guide. As for click bait... I certainly didn't see it as such. The timing was spot on. Thanks WPC.

Okay one question. When I switch my region settings for cortana what are the consequences? What will I be missing. I am in Canada and we don't have local scout. But I switched the search to US and it works perfectly. Will I only have to switch the search to us or everything?

Thank you Dan, thank you WP Central, this is an awesome article.

I signed up yesterday and this article appeared today, lol. It's great to gain the reassurance and links given here.

So looking forward to 8.1 on my current 920 and my new 930 :D


Thanks for the article. You have done a great service to the community. I shall salute you(in my mind) on getting the WP8.1 update on my Lumia1520. cheers!

Ive been reading wpcentral daily for a couple of years now. I can promise you they just dont waste their time with click bait tactics. They know that sort of behaviour drives readers away and reduces clicks. This site is as close as you can get to a proper news site whilst still being a blog for enthusiasts.

Now if you were on Neowin or the Verge (that I also read daily) you might have a point.

Dan this guide is great, i dont need it but judging on the 1000's of comments on every article its good to see that someone grab the ball and run with it. This is one PSA that was much needed.

Thanks! Yeah, we're try to anticipate what people are asking, and get this out there for anyone doing a search or who has a question. Hopefully it works!

Now that its in writing, do feel pressured that I expect you to be the first one to tell me when the update is out, NOT VERGE.

Oh and Dan, it has to be YOU who writes the article. If anybody else (say like Rich) gets the article out it doesn't count. Is the challenge still accepted?

Haha, nice now I don't have to look at any other site for dev preview news. I'll be refreshing this site every 10 min until it is released.

Yeah that's what I was thinking. He probably knows its coming Thursday, which is why he said he'd be the first to write about it when its released lol

Most current rumors place it at the 14th. But I can't stress enough the RUMORS part, so hope for the best, expect the worst.

Daniel, how do we know that the official WP8.1 is released for our phone when we were using the Developer Preview at that current time?

So Daniel, today is 8 and it is not coming today, tomorrow is 9 and it is not coming tomorrow as well, so it is DEFINITELY coming day after tomorrow on 10. Right? Or I am going to...*SLAP*

You'll get the cyan update whenever your carrier pushes it.  But the firmware update will essentially install the same OS you do with under the preview, just with support for added features from the OEM.  Still, I'd you'll have Action Center, Cortana, and a bunch of other stuff already.  No waiting for months while everyone else gets to have fun with the new bells and whistles.

Hopefully my phone is country variant, 1 more thing, if I download the preview can I take the Final OS version on June ?

Hey ,I hav completed all the steps that is mentioned in this article , after that I just simply checked for updates , suddenly it started downloading ! I don't know what it is downloading but it is still at 0% , can u plzz help me ?

I figured, but I appreciate the heads up.  Now I'm prepared for that glorious day that is coming some time this month when my WPCentral app tells me it's available.  You're just making sure we're informed and prepared.


Much thanks to Microsoft for doing this.  I did wait for Update 3, but 8.1 is too big for me to wait - and I trust you guys at WP Central.  If there were a problem with an install, you would hear about it and let us know.  I don't have to root a phone or any such thing.  Way to go, MS!

My thoughts exactly. I'm glad Microsoft finally figured it out and made it really simple, legit, and safe to get the latest software versions.

Daniel, any word from Nokia or WP about once the acquisition is complete if the firmware updates will end up becoming part of the developer preview program? After all, it seems like being theyd be under the same tent so to speak. And getting Cyan, etc from MS would sure cut down on frisfrations of users...

Sorry if you covered it and I missed it...

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

How is it possible the article is posted at 1648 hrs and Dan slam dunnked a commente at 1607 hrs. Or is this a revised article? My foot.


Resuming ....

Wont nokia have a uniform policiy regarding the warranty status affected by dev preview across the world ? I mean, if one of us can go and ask nokia directly about it, then why hasn't anyone already done that ? Daniel could you talk to some nokia guys regarding that ? Its a sort of confirmation for all of us living in countries where there are no carriers (yeah SLAP them !) ! Thanks !

me-"what about my beloved lumia 72..........dan-" slap slap "shut uupp read the article" 

me-"oohh okk but what about........." slap me-"ok i give up"


Hi guys..
I have just signed up for windows phone preview for developers (credit to Daniel for that neat tutorial).
So..i have casually checked the phone for updates and it shows me " an update is ready for download"
Now..i am currently running Lumia black on my NL920(India), could this be 8.1? Or update of Microsoft Bittersweet shimmer?
Please clarify

Its what you didn't have before. Not WP8.1, not Cyan. It wont change a thing in your phone. But you need it for 8.1

Watch out, it's just the Gdr3 developer preview. Even if you've installed that version via the official way weeks before.
Doesn't make sense but that's what happened to me yesterday...

So in order to get an early build of cortana outside of the us should i change my region pre regestring or it can even happen post regestring on prev for dev app??

Sorry, no. After update still showing WP8. Must have just been a version update, but odd when 8.1 is due so soon?

Will I be able to...SLAP!  But I just want to know...SLAP!  When will I...SLAP!  Does this support...SLAP!  I love my Windows Phone...I love my Windows Phone..  lol

What happens if my carrier hasn't enabled Lumia Black? I have Amber but downloaded GDR3 with this method, If I install 8.1 and then my carrier releases Black and I install it, will it keep 8.1? I hope that doesn't read like a mess :)

Urhm, you can't install Black if you install 8.1. You might be able to install Black firmware, but the software can't be downgraded to Black from 8.1

I assume that yes, you'll keep 8.1. Because, in Daniel's words, this not touch the firmware. So, using 'Preview for Developers', an OS update (from Microsoft) comes before the Firmware update (Lumia Black from Nokia and carriers). And when carriers drop the firmware update you just update it...

Please correct me if I'm wrong people....

I was going to ask the exact same question.  I've got a Lumia 620 on aio (one of the 'windows phones have updates?' carriers).  I installed update 3 via developer preview, and will have 8.1 preview before aio gets around to releasing Black.  I have to assume that the update from aio would apply the black firmware and skip the OS update.  I guess I'll find out in a few days when WP8.1DP is released.

That's exactly how it works.  Even when you get an official standard route update it's 2 or more updates.  One being the firmware and the others being OS patches.  The dev preview will give you the OS updates early and when the carrier approves it all your phone just like a PC will see what version you are on and only install the missing patches which will only be firmware.

I dont know...i saw 4 lumias with problems with preview for developers. I just dont trust at all with this.


Only The Doctor and his companion have ever seen the Loch Ness monster.  Wait, are you The Doctor?  If so, what's Windows Phone 9 going to be like?  Will it work with my sonic screwdriver?

Lol come on guys. Maybe that 4 folks that i know dont know how to install well the developer preview.

I saw : 1 L920 with sound problems. 1.820 with tiles update problems. And two L925 with some kind of notifications and vibration problems after the  developer preview install, so i dont know if those guys are kinda dumbs or maybe was the developer preview.

What do you think?

...and we also heard that you were abducted by Aliens and did some experiment on you...right?

It may happens.. It's a preview.. This means that what u have downloaded it's not the final build... But a version with some bugs..

Are you retarded? It has been said so many times that it's the final version of the os the same one that you'll get with Cyan

Stop spreading FUD, it is final version and one and the same they are shipping to Nokia, which will come pre-installed on 630, 635 and 930...geez some people.

I seriously doubt that,, if anything he was referring to Windows 8.1 Update 1
Which is available right now.

1st the 10, then the 14th and now not sure. :( Hope this comes soon. I already keep checking for updates every day on my phone, even though I know its not yet available. Can't wait.

That so? I though most of Lumias has Bluetooth LE in Lumia Black update? And I see your link (but not watching your video) that it's a bout Bluetooth LE API for dev

Maybe from the fact that 8.1 is expected sometime in April and it's obviously better to get this out of the way before 8.1 is released than having a thousand desperate guys asking "how do I enable the dev preview" after the update is live?

So the developers preview won't be available today???? But BUT WPoweruser said it was today! They're always right! /s XD

I was being sarcastic...
Microsoft hasn't committed to a date. So even if it comes April 30th it will still be within April as they said

Yes, on Twitter. But still, the official word given on Build was "April" so I'm even willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

Same situation. Waited for months for Tmobile Lumia 925 GDR3, I'm done waiting. More than anything I'm glad there's a legit, safe way to do this OTA without cables and strange debugging workarounds.

Not all the features will be available in preview We already know that BLE will not work on Nokia phones because of a conflict between the MS ble stack and the Nokia one. Also Miracast will not be available without a firmware upgrade and even so not all devices will support it

Found out what BLE is....but does this mean Bluetooth won't work at all on Nokia devices with the developer preview?

no, of course not. bluetooth will work just like it always did. but the new technology LE (low energy) is not.. so, dont worry!

Normal Bluetooth will work without any problem, but for Low Energy, we have to wait until Nokia firmware.

This is why if anyone posts info like this,, it would be nice to provide a source for the info.

The link to the //Build session where they talked about this was provided by tristan.rice in a previous comment.  I'd post it again, but the forum won't let me because it think I'm trying to post spam.  Just search for the previous comment.

I saw it and watched and didn't see anything about regulare BT....but I didn't watch the whole thing either.

Ok, I skimmed the video and it specifically says "LE is disabled on Nokia phones for Deveolper Preview, but will be ready for Windows Phone 8.1 Launch"

Beginning at time stamp 5:56 in that video

Miracast was not really expected in 8.1 as far as I could ever tell.

And I do not believe LE was expected in 8.1 as that is a part of the Firmware, not the OS.