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Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2 confirmed in Microsoft docs, supports video conferencing

Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2 documents reveal new changes in a future update

All eyes are on Windows 10 for phone these days, even for Microsoft, who have shifted development to focus on the new OS. Reports going back to April 2014 note that Windows Phone 8.1 was to have at least two GDR (General Distribution Release) updates over its lifespan. Windows Phone 8.1.1 came out last year, but the fate of GDR2 (8.1.2) or Update 2 was not so clear.

Now, Microsoft has published documents on Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2 dated January 28, 2015. Usually, such information is put behind a firewall and is limited to manufacturing partners only – that is, these docs do not reflect consumer-facing features and may be hidden again.

Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2 is still planned contradicting earlier rumors that it had been canceled (we noted last month that it had not been). Such timing lines it up with an announcement at Mobile World Congress in March, where Microsoft is likely to unveil some new mid-range Lumias.

We should caution that GDR2 is shaping up to be a minor update. The reason for this should be obvious, as Microsoft would rather sink development time and resources into building Windows 10. After all, almost all Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 phones should follow the upgrade path to Windows 10, leaving no one behind.

With that said, here are some of the changes in GDR2, at least for OEMs and manufacturing partners.

Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2 changes and updates

  • Video over LTE – Customize specific settings and behavior for Video over LTE to meet mobile operator requirements including Showing or hiding the LTE video calling switch, Enabling video conferencing, etc.
  • Restore Start tile layout – Append the OEM-defined Start screen layout to the bottom of the user's backed up Start screen layout when the user restores their device from a backup.
  • More phone languages - Bangla (Bangladesh), Khmer, Kiswahili, Lao
  • VPN Configuration service provider – New AlwaysOn value in ConnectionType; New Policies/AppIdleTimeout setting in the CSP

There are other changes as well, but they fall into the technical side of manufacturer testing e.g. a 'New location-based services (LBS) test library API.'

Interestingly, there are no changes to hardware requirements, including no added screen resolutions nor new Bluetooth profiles. Those rumors of 2K display and Snapdragon 805 chipset support were, as usual, bogus.

The Video over LTE is perhaps the most interesting of all the additions. The tools appear to let carriers make custom software for handling video conferencing calls (dependent on the chipset). How that will work exactly is unclear but being able to support video conferencing (perhaps in Skype) would be fascinating.

Currently, only Skype integrates into the Call screen on Windows Phone 8.1.1. Going forward, it looks like third-party apps and carrier supported services can finally plug in there as well (see the settings under Phone and 'switch to video calls' option).

Regarding the restore Start tile layout, this already happens with 8.1, however in 8.1.2 it looks like carriers can have their apps populate on the Start screen at the bottom. It is a cheeky way to get you to remember that those apps exist, as restoring to a different carrier can seemingly 'hide' those apps.

Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2

Is that it?

Many of you are likely to start complaining that GDR2 is not a big deal. However, it should be cautioned that these documents are only for manufacturers and carriers, not consumers. Any consumer-facing changes that do not require hardware support are not listed here e.g. new Cortana support or changes to the Action Center.

Because of this, anything written here is to be considered incomplete. Microsoft will likely reveal more information about this update during Mobile World Congress, including any of the real exciting additions.

As always, watch this space.

Source: Microsoft

Thanks, HD2Owner and XDA crew, for the assist!

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

264 Comments
  • This is Microsoft!
  • Now that I have got windows 10 TP I'm not even interested in GDR2.
  • Agreed.
  • But, considering the fact that pretty much over 95% of WP users won't have any version of W10 installed on their phones,, to know that another update is coming before June is pretty awesome news....
    ..............
    We can't factor in W10 yet because it's not even a complete version of the OS, and TP users will most likely have to wait for these GDR2 features in a future update.
    .............
    From what I see there's not that much of an advantage of installing the TP yet, unless you have the advantages of Denim, and GDR2 working with it... At this point I'd rather have Denim, and some new GDR2 features,, vs the TP..... Of course until the TP reaches DP status...
    NNevertheless,, I'm still going to install the TP,, hoping that Denim, and GDR2, can still find their way onto my phone.
    1520 ATT
  • Rod, watch this 30 second video, omg, I want to share it with everyone.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3nXHAQa-gQ&sns=em
  • I can not upvote this enough....thanks for the laugh :D   (1520 owner!) and pissed off!!
  • Ye are welcome.
  • LMAO
  • I installed wp10 on my 920 (via the xda method). I flashed back to 8.1 after 30 minutes. Not ready for daily use, too many issues (UI is messy, Cortana only works in US, US keyboard couldn't be installed etc.). It's as schizophrenic as win 8 was bit even less pretty. Just wait it out for a few more builds I say.
  • i used nokia recovery tool but can't able to install wp8.1 can u plz tell me how to do that. i have wp10 TP currently (lumia 730)
  • I'm testing Windows 10 on my brothers phone.
  • Conversely, since I don't even have 8.1.1 yet I'm fairly indifferent to GDR2 since I won't have it for ages.
  • But you don't have 10 yet.
  • That's some good decent features for a GDR2, after all, Windows 10 is coming. I can't complain really.
  • I'm not using an incomplete and buggy preview. I'm excited for gdr 2
  • Wise man
  • I'm from Bangladesh and It's probably the most wanted or big update for our people. Because finally our Mother language is coming :)
  • That's nice.
  • Fabulous. Now you can call your Mother.
  • As long as the carriers release Win 10 to your device. I think MSFT should start releasing the updates directly to phones like Apple does?
    Just cut out the middle man. I'm waiting for my replacement of my 1020, Which I think it will come with Win 10 preloaded. U think that's why it's in hold but I can wait my upgrade on AT&T will be there when I'm ready.
  • Release Denim F.I.R.S.T -_-
  • I think that's a poor idea.
  • Why poor idea Daniel?
  • Snarky ass comment inbound...
  • Surely GDR2 is useful for all models that cant WP10 (ie x20 range)
  • for me, whats important is to defaultly integrate the File app to the phone its funny that twitter, facebook or espn apps are defaulty installed, but the File, which is an essentialy app, ISNT!
  • Is it though Daniel? Microsoft is fragmenting and that's always bad for any platform. It's not like Android where developers target a whole range of versions going from lollipop down to gingerbread for app compatibility. 7.x phones are out even though they're a minority but still used. Microsoft has more control over their platform and should update everyone first, before releasing new versions. Who knows what kind of under the hood changes GDR2 comes with... It just helps that everyone is using the same software to improve user experience, and that translates to less people complaining on the forums.
  • Fragmenting? Phones will get WINDOWS 10 as long as carriers allow it. end. if you didn't want to wait for your carrier to give you Denim, then get an unbranded and unlocked phone. Microsoft can't wait for countries testing "country variants" and carriers testing their updates because they know Carriers might take months to do that simple thing. the thing is most devices will get windows 10 in the end. and that's good.   Microsoft has been fragmented because not all phones have had the updates at the same time. there are still people on Cyan and other on black, and now Denim. Microsoft can't just slow down because carriers and countries don't test their variants faster.
  • Chill.
  • Yes I agree haha
  • Denim is getting there now. Its come to a fair few devices (including the highly disputed 1020) the wait has been unbearable with little information on release timings. Obviously there has been a few issues so just bare with...
  • No denim release since December and that too was only for 2 phone 535 and 520 in india
  • Was supposed to reach high end first MS, liers.
  • Denim is useless on non preview camera phones. Smart Microsoft. They know how to tease their customers.
  • Denim is shit... Cyan was better!
    I have faced some problems and bugs since I updated to Denim.
    It's a shame.
  • I am waiting for my 1020 from longtime. India
  • I have to own up and say I don't really know much about India. The denim update is ready though for the 1020 and has been released in many countries. Blame it on the carriers!
  • Models in India are country variants. They are not available through any carriers
  • It seems we always have a scapegoat, in the end, it is MS' responsibility. Idc about the carrier crap. Precedence exists of avoiding carriers. It is MS' product their responsibility to work with carriers. 10 was, as I had predicted, a fiasco.
    ...
    On a lighter note, see 30 sec video of 1520, 10, and MS. Hilarious. The video had been well received as pee your pant funny, just watch.
    ....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3nXHAQa-gQ&sns=em
  • Lumia Cyan update was way faster. Being a very big update, it was released almost for all phone within a month. And Denim needs 4-5 months? -_-
  • Yep, seemed true.
  • I'm unable to get update 1 because of tha namesake firmware "Denim" -___-
  • Really? Other than subtitle timing that is a very poor "joke"
  • Joke... The joke was on us. Besides, I never said the word joke, as you implied with quotations... It seems the community college you attended and failed out of did not educate you well.
  • I must say, your chosen nick fits very well
  • Wear it like a blanket
  • Agree, nonsense joke. Thanks for wasting 30 seconds of my life with this stupidity!
  • You people are mental. How the hell does anyone come up with joke? It is a comedy skit, Saturday night live style...maybe the characters resemble your parents too much.
  • It's not funny!
    Neither is your user name, though it is descriptive lol
  • still no denim for my country variant 1020 here in Brazil, while my parents 520 were updated... apparently Microsoft has given up completely on the high end side.
  • my 1020 has Denim when WC announced that denim update rolling out in europe for 1020 and 925
  • I had to turn off Developer Preview for my Lumia 1020 to update to Denim, here in Norway, don't know if it is like that for you.
  • if you look at the update status pages in Microsoft's site you'll see it's only out in some countries on Europe, nothing for America(s)
  • Same here in the UK. My 1020 CV received a Lumia update(Denim) but after it installed I didn't get the welcome to Denim message nor dis my FW change from Cyan. However once I un-enrolled from PfD, my FW changed to Denim. Note though that I re-enabled the PfD and it reverted back to Cyan again. Weird.
  • Don't blame it on me... :P (I just had to, sorry)
  • My 1020 does not have Denim.
  • India is one of the major windows phone using country. Still they are taking a lot of time. China is ahead in all these
  • I predict it will all be rolled out properly by the end of March, if not even the middle of March.
  • Still a very long time, 4 months from the first release
  • Im not saying its a good time. Not at all. Yes there will always be staggering due to different types but not this much!
  • Agreed bro
  • in finland nokia phones are the most used phone brand and nowadays windows phone is the most used OS too and we already have denim for 1020 :P
  • Yeah cuz Nokia is a company of Finland
  • I have it on my phone and didn't get anything new so chil out
  • You must have an affordable flagship..
  • It's almost like they've relesed it already and carriers are holding it up...
  • And we thought they cancelled it..atleast assumed
  • Actually, I corrected that rumor earlier last month. Once again, sites with poor records are saying untrue things.
  • Daniel with all regards to you can you please check with ur sources at microsoft as to when can we expect the rollout for Lumia 1520 in India
  • I thought you were one of the ones who suggested it was cancelled in favor of Windows 10, especially since it was supposed to appear alongside the now-cancelled McLaren?
  • That's what I read too...GDR 2 is mainly for the support of 3D integration on McLaren
  • I remember the same... Weird... We may be confused tho.
  • Daniel, You and your team really do good work!  I have really enjoyed your site since I found it a couple of months ago, and I check in every day now... Knowledge with attitude!  I like it!  Kudos.. You guys enabled me to go out on a limb and grab a 930, which is awesome!  A true flagship that I would have otherwise ignored... ingorance is NOT bliss!
  • Think there would be no new firmware in GDR2? maybe just software update?
  • Lumia Elephant on the way!
  • I still think it's going to be emerald.
  • yeah i think the same... since its kind of a color name
  • Lumia Eggplant!
  • Lumia Elephant: The MASSIVE update. ;)
  • I'd prefer that. Firmware updates can be great, but often are not worth the extra time it takes to get the update.
  • Wouldn't mind some optimizations... Not that WP runs poor on S800 phones, those old 9XX and 1020 phones could use it!
  • Agreed, the features 8.1 brought to my 925 mean I could never go back to Windows 8, but it isn't quite so fluid and snappy as it used to be. Be nice if they could optimise things a little - for new features I can wait for Windows 10.
  • I had the same problem on my 928. I made a backup did a factory reset and restored from backup and now its like new.
  • Optimizations could very well be in GDR2, but since they would have zero impact on hardware OEMs or carriers, they would not be listed in these documents. In other words, what you see here is not a changelog for GDR2, just keep that in mind ;)
  • what about windows 10..is it optimized for low memory device (say lumia 520)?
    or complexity of the OS reached the level beyond which smooth and fluid OS is not possible for low ram devices??
  • Windows 10 is runing fast as WP 8.0 on my Lumia 720.
  • I wish they'd simplify the background tasks management
  • Simplify? Even more?
  • Yaaaay, more mid-range Lumia's at MWC2015 'cause there aren't enough already!!! Come on MS, you can do better with Lumia. I like what you were doing up till now but seriously, more mid-range Lumia's feels very much unneeded.
  • Why would they release a high end phone before W10? That seems like the most logical thing to do.
  • Agreed @jas00555
  • Waiting for a high end Lumia until W10, due November onwards is a loser move (losing customers). ..... Any high end flagship will run W10 anyway, so why wait until it's released? Why not release a high end flagship as soon as the 810 chip is available and keep all those customers going out of contract who will go to another os?
  • Or at least have WP 8.1.2 support Snaps 805/810 and 2K so that HTC and other can make WP phones with that. They might not want to wait for Win10
  • "due November" Where precisely did you obtain such insider knowledge? Both Microsoft and Qualcomm (two entities who would probably know a lot about this subject) have said that a new flagship is coming this summer, presumably announced at BUILD. I look forward to your inside scoop, 2tomtom.
  • Due November relates to W10! You said "why would they release a high end before W10"
  • Oh, you meant "big Windows". I was referring to "small Windows".
  • A recent report said Microsoft could be one of the first to release a phone with the 810 chipset. If this is true I would like to see replacements for the 1020, 925 and 930 with the 810. But to release a.s.a.p. rather than wait for W10. I believe this would keep current customers happy. Then update those phones to W10 as soon as possible. The alternative is to wait for W10 release for phones to introduce the new models. The first choice I think will make customers happy?
  • /s?
  • Dafuq? Where did I state that I was talking about a high-end phone? Please clarify in which sentence I said that. 'Cause that was not what I meant.
  • Because you didn't like that they were supposedly releasing more mid end phones. So you're either suggesting:
    A) Microsoft does nothing and scraps their MWC conference
    B) they release low end phones
    C) they release a high end phone Unless I'm missing some other possibility that Microsoft could do for their phones, I have no other choice but to assume you are now trying to cover your ass by going "well.... TECHNICALLY those exact words weren't said".
  • So what were you trying to say then?! You asking for more low end Lumias? Since more mid range is unneeded and you weren't talking about high-end? Or did you want them to release a hoverboard with Lumia branding?
  • I'll take one
  • get in line lol!
  • Hopefully we see more than 1 "Flagship" is why. I'd rather have a new option right now than wait til fall(?) just to have it coincide with W10. I think they really need to keep the 5", 6" and 1020 replacement in the lineup all as Flagships.
  • No problem, they can leave room for partitioning, or use the fantastical partition stitching... That's some magical made up shit right there. They could have used the SD card like the 8gb phones will do.
  • I don't see much point in a high end phone before Windows 10.
  • All the out of contract customers may disagree with you. Perhaps by choosing a brand on a different OS.
  • I agree waiting for an os update(that will enable support for better hardware no doubt) is something that would work better in the long term as wasnt the 1020 released before the os supported 1080i no doubt keeping nokia from releasing a it with a capable display?(other then the fact they still had leftover screens from the good old Symbian days that weren't 16:9)
  • Better than entry level phones like the 435. Also, it's not even confirmed yet; it's just likely.
  • Not even looking forward for GDR2 ... Preparing myself for a new W10 device ..till then..will wait ;)
  • I'll be waiting
  • Yay.
  • It's interesting that they're still working on 8.1, since that could lead to some scenarios where 8.1.2 has features that 10 do not.
  • This is almost certain to happen.
  • Keep in mind, one is sill a preview/beta, so...
  • This is for handsets that won't get wp10 or denim ;)
  • The gdr2 will probably prepare your phone for windows 10.
  • No big need to upgrade, for me. Directly update to Windows 10.
  • I don't get it. When Windows 10 is on the way and all the devices will get it so why Microsoft wasting their time and bothering on gdr2?
  • You clearly haven't used wp7.
  • W10 is a ways away. Keep in mind, we just got the first preview build. I've been on 8.1 DP for like a year, yet just got official 8.1 in Dec.
  • Till Indians are waiting for denim update
  • I wish in mobile data connection there should be an dedicated feature for 2g, 3g and hybrid..currently its hybrid even when switching it to 3g..it changes so frequently makes it impossible to work on mobile data connection. Please do something about this.
  • Good point
  • Yeah its required specially in India..
  • So go to the uservoice page and submit for it. Nothing will get done if you don't tell Microsoft
  • Done.. Thanks
  • Well that would because the 3g coverage in the areas you frequent is incredibly spotty. By forcing it to lock to 3g, well you won't have any signal if there is no 3g.
  • I'm glad that they are releasing GDR2, but it'll be nice if, as the others said, the OS was optimized a bit more. :)
  • I'm still waiting for WP8.1 update for my Samsung ATIV S in Canada and now they're going to WP8.1 update 2 .....I should of bought the Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Just use the preview for developers!
  • You dont understand it. There are problems that some wouldn't consider to be minor ie. camera not always working & there's no way to go back to 8gdr3(unless the one user on xda happened to dump it or gdr2)
  • We don't care about windows 10 because it will not be avalabke for us at least until August or after so we want sum thind good to live with until that time
  • Windows 10 Phone going to be awesome! MS Lumia with Snapdragon 810 with Adreno 430 graphics!
  • The big