Back in April, Windows Phone Central reported that Windows Phone 8.1 is scheduled to receive two OS updates in 2014, with one in July and another in November. Previously known as general distribution releases (GDR), the updates bring some new features, optimizations, and bug fixes to those with Windows Phone. Neowin is reporting that Update 1 is nearing completion by the Consumer Experience (CXE) team, and they may wrap in the next week. If accurate, Update 1 looks to be on schedule.
Once the Windows Phone program managers clear Update 1, the bits are pushed to Microsoft's OEM and carrier partners for further testing. An expected public release with carrier/OEM support is still a few months out, especially since the original Windows Phone 8.1 update has yet to be delivered to most users. However, like previous GDR updates, those enrolled in the Preview for Developers program are setup to get the update early, possibly within weeks.
Microsoft feature-locked the original Windows Phone 8.1 update on March 26. Fast forward to July and the official Windows Phone 8.1 update is still in the early stages of over-the-air updates for the majority of customers. However, where 8.1 was a significant OS update, requiring more testing, Update 1 is considerably smaller. Features in Update 1 include the coveted Folder creation ability, accidentally revealed by Microsoft a few weeks ago with other details remaining unknown at this time.
The Windows Phone team is on an accelerated schedule in 2014 in an effort to regain momentum in the mobile space. Apple's iOS and Google's Android are still dominating smartphone sales and market share, despite Microsoft's attempts to catch up. Combined with the co-development of Windows 8, Windows Phone is receiving high priority from Microsoft. Update 2 for Windows Phone 8.1 could be ready by November, just in time to ship with new hardware, including the flagship 'McLaren' phone launching on multiple carriers. McLaren – its internal codename – was previously known under Goldfinger and features a 3D Touch system with Mix View for the Live Tiles. Neowin claims McLaren has a 5.2-inch full-HD screen, 20MP camera along with a 64 GB internal storage.
Microsoft is expected to merge Windows Phone and RT SKUs with the next big OS update codenamed 'Threshold' for Spring 2015.