Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers Program should go live Thursday, April 10

It’s Monday morning, just days before Microsoft’s Build conference kicks off in San Francisco. Windows Phone 8.1 is one of a few announcements expected by Redmond, with Nokia following up later in the day with some their own press event.

While Windows Phone 8.1 is going to be the big news, a lot of you are only concerned with one thing: When do you get it?

The distribution of 8.1 will include a few steps, including getting it into manufacturers’ hands, pushing updates through carriers and most tantalizing, the Developer Preview Program. That program, accessed through an app on the Windows Phone Store and open to anybody with a free App Studio account, will allow everyone to install Windows Phone 8.1 on any Windows Phone 8 device weeks before “official” carrier updates.

A few days ago, we reported that this program was set to launch in ‘late April’. That was certainly a vague deadline, but the important thing to take away was that it won’t be released the same day as the Build announcement on April 2.  We now have confirmation that the planned release schedule for the Preview for Developer program should be Thursday, April 10, just over one week from the Build reveal.  That falls in line with our original report on the core of 8.1 wrapping development by Microsoft.

The Preview for Developers version of Windows Phone 8.1 looks to be the latest, with the final core of the OS and the hottest patches, referred internally as Quick Fix Engineering (QFE) update #5.

Assuming this schedule does not change, anyone and everyone who opts in to the Preview Program can have Windows Phone 8.1 on their current phones starting that day. Later, when the official update rolls out over-the-air – following carrier approval – those Preview devices will update to the latest version of the OS and firmware.

We should of course caution that Microsoft could change things at the last minute, but internal planning schedules show April 10 as the current date.

More details about the Developer Preview Program can be found on the Windows Phone Blog, which describes the features and limits of the older Update 3 preview.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

402 Comments
  • Not too bad a delay, imo.
    This update was long overdue, but if they pull this off and manage to get a decent adoption rate, I wouldn't be surprised.
  • After lazy weekend some good news today ..!!! :) Thanks danny
  • Ikr.? ;)
    Been refreshing this page for a while now. Keep em coming Daniel.
  • Can't agree more. WPC just started shining again...
  • +930
  • GDR3 was released not too long ago. This update came about 5-6 months sooner than I expected. Glad I was wrong.
  • I guess that depends on if you wait for carrier release. I just got GDR3 from T-Mobile maybe 2 months ago. :-/
  • The best thing, It's on my birthday. Not a shabby present ^^
  • Now that we know it, Happy B'day in advance! ;)
  • WPcentral's sources suck, please concentrate in the facts so you don't have to retract your misleading articles every week.
  • Do they? They seem to be pretty good about their sources. And state when they're not sure if its a credible source. I think you're thinking of wmpoweruser lol.
  • They retracted today with the developers program. They retracted last week with the RTM date. They retracted a couple of weeks ago about the release date of new devices. WPcentral is hitting new lows on poor journalism.
  • Its hardly retracting when they are updating and zeroing in on a moving target that no one will officially acknowledge. But hey if you think its so easy and you can do better, let me know the details of your new blog and ill be happy to read it.
  • This +920!
  • I remember Rubino bashing other sites for the same kind of mistakes. Build is in three days, what's the point of trying to anticipate information that will be announced there if you don't have good sources and the probability of making a mistake is so big?, just cheap sensationalism.
  • What sensationalism exactly? The title is straightforward and the article states that they have conformation. Maybe I'm missing something.
  • And each time for those (except today) they clearly stated this news was not fully credible IIRC (rumometer is often included). Today they said this date is supposed to be it from what they understand, but I don't remember an article giving a definitive date (I may be forgetting though). Regardless, even if they did, who's to say that was the date and it didn't get delayed internally? My point is their info is pretty accurate for a large majority of their articles, and they usually state if an article isn't based on a fully credible source. In fact, the only site I see as having a better track record is the verge, but they really don't report much on WP, plus they seem to have a pretty apparent bias (IMHO) against all things MS (except xbox). If these sorts of things bother you, you may not want to read about any leaks or rumors before they become official.
  • +720
  • It's NOT COOL to slam another very good source of W8Phone news to take up for another one.
    WMPoweruser is a excellent source. They constantly update with news. I'll admit none of their apps can touch the quality of WPCentral. Still they both are GREAT SOURCES for the W8Phone community.
  • Are you kidding me? Wmpoweruser is so incredibly shameless in the way they report news its ridiculous. They portray every rumor as fact and when it's proven wrong, they shame other websites for reporting about it from such a weak source. I'll admit I read their site regularly, but their titles (that aren't from other sites) are totally click bait and the articles seem to be posted based on every little rumor that pops up. My perspective as a long time reader of their site. There's nothing wrong with calling out issues with sites, even if they like what you like.
  • Dude, wpcentral are speculating on executive decisions, if you have ever worked in a bureaucracy then you would know how challenging this is. I think late April vs 10 April is pretty damn close enough for me.
  • A week's delay is lightning speed compared to that old school NoDo delay. Yuck.
  • Stil don't think it will delay. Lol I am sturbunt  
  • No!! Don't prolong my pain... D:
  • Its only a few (6-7) extra days! Cheer up! :D It'll be worth the wait :)
  • Lets just hope this isn't a sick April fools joke haha. April 10 is sooooo sweet. Just enough time to read through all the hands on reviews and wp8.1 summaries then it's go time.
  • Nice
  • Very nice, and I can't wait❕
    It's like after all these years the lights have finally been turned on for the OS with the addition of background images.
    .........................
    Background images make the start screen look more inviting, and adds warmth to WP... I think WP will have a much better presence on store shelves next to iDroid devices...
    .............................
    I just hope that carriers, or OEM's, take advantage of the feature in tasteful ways, with their preloaded images, that help devices look more attractive to potential new WP users.
  • Have background images been confirmed? Or are you talking about the tiles background as in the above pic if I'm not mistaken?
  • There's only one background image available on WP8.1.. The background of the tiles... That's what I'm talking about..
  • Funny how no one has mentioned it till now, what would be the accent colour if you've set a background image ? Or would there be a separate setting for that ? I havent heard any such thing being mentioned here..
  • If you set a background the accent colour is transparent, so you can see the background.
  • Not really, because the accent colour is used throughout the OS and not just on the tiles.
    So I think you'll still be stuck with that very very limited colour pallet for the OS accent colour.
  • You got me right, but my question was, we havent seen a setting for accent colour, we saw either accent colour or photo, what if we select photo ? How would we select accent colour then ? No leaks yet about it.
  • Good point!!.. Maybe you can select both and the background image takes precedence over the start screen only.. Who knows..
  • I think that you'll still have to select an accent colour. The parallax effect on the tiles is separate I think. Think of it sort of the way Skinnery works. If you ever used Skinnery Themes, you see that you can create tiles with colours or pictures or whatever you want. Yet, it won'd affect the accent colour of your phone. I think it's the same here: even if you use a photo on the tiles, it will not affect the accent colour and you'll still have to use one.
  • Would be nice if they "borrowed" the Jolla system and used the dominant colour of the tile image.
  • It would. Don't know if Jolla hasn't patented the hell out of it, though.
  • those are skinned tiles, not background images !!!!!!!!!!!
  • Go back and see the video. The tiles are transparent. As you scroll image seems to move inside the tile.
  • That isnt called background, that is called tile background. Background would've been if the black colour behind was changed. It isn't. Dynamic Tile background is correct.
  • We'll see what MS calls them tomorrow.... Whatever MS says is what we'll all have to agree with.. How about that❔
  • 101% right ! obviously :)
    Excited as hell !!
  • LOL❕❕❕❕.... Tomorrow is awesome..
  • i personally like this one better, i want as much black as possible on my ativ s(amoled= less battery)
  • Well, the WP community is considering them background images because the information that's overlaid over the images is in the foreground... Therefore WP has background images on the tiles...
  • IDK. I have so many questions... But, we're about to find out❕
  • Another thing which hasn't been mentioned yet... In the article "windows phone 8.1 features" for which comments are closed, in the apps+store section, i caught THIS !! Facebook app comes with OS, updates independently, hooks into OS Well, 'hooks into' means integration. So we're still getting the fb integration ? (except for messaging presumably) It seems so, and it seems GREAT !! More updates, better control over your account, and FASTER ! :-P How come this went unnoticed ?
  • Exciting!
  • So, T-minus 10 days. That's great news. Very much looking forward to this update.
  • 11 if you count today.
  • depends on which country you stay in... :)  
  • 12 if you count yesturday. 
  • Can't wait!!!! I'm using a Samsung ATIV S on T-mobile. Being that phones with 4.5 or bigger screens get 3 rows of tiles. Plus apps can be stored on a memory card. I'll be rocking a TOP OF THE LINE 8.1 device.
  • Yay!
  • I expect a full review... seeing that every screenshot you use as a opener has a different configuration of Windows Phone 8.1... we all know you have it. ;)
  • The WP8.1 review will certantly be the biggest article in the WP Central history!!
  • Until the next big update :P
  • I want it to be on the front page of newspaper
  • Not sure of that.. But it certainly is going to remain on the main page of this website for weeks..!!
  • Which newspaper?
  • Pretty sure those are captured from the SDK & put on the phones to look like it is on the phone.
  • Nope brother..!! Daniel already has a WP8.1..!!
  • Who at WPcentral has the SDK? Jay Benett, the developer confirmed (unless he lied) that he did not get access to the SDK. The screenshots look so real. And I noticed that the tile configuration is different in each article, unless I'm wrong. Or, maybe they are really good at photoshop and that sort of thing :)
  • Sometimes I felt they were photoshopping images to make it seem like they have 8.1, but now I actually think they have it...
  • Me too!
  • Same here.
  • WindowsPhoneCentral app will be transparent? Like the OS native apps?
  • Yes, any tile with any area show your selected theme colour will be transparent.
  • Yes! Basically any app that changes tiles with accent colors currently will be able to use background image. Example - Fb messenger will use it. Facebook in current state wont. Twitter wont but Gleek will.
  • Nice, thanks guys! Good part of my apps on Star Screen will be transparent, and some apps won't! Will be great and smooth and beatiful haha Can't wait!
  • Hopefully MS will updates its own apps to follow the accent colour; right now all my tiles but Skype, Office, OneNote, OneDrive, Music and Big health already do it.
  • Damn it. Another week and a half?
    I hope they still show us all the goodies in detail in two days stll
  • Yep when they LL show us the mouth watering new functions
    We will be banging our heads on walls when we will get the dev. Prev. ;)
  • still better then a month
  • Finally. Yet a bit delayed.
  • What would be the 'downside' of opting into the preview program? I'm interested in doing it - bit having never been a part of it I'm curious to know all the details...
  • Well, you cannot revert to the previous state so if, by any chance, Microsoft pushes a doodoo that kills your phone, bummer. :) But that won't happen. You could void your warranty, though.
  • I am pretty sure the warranty is ok... This is not a hack, its an official release.
  • I think so too, but you know how dogdy those service centers could be. At least in Croatia they are. They could argue it's only a beta version of the software, thus not covered by warranty. :) But warranty expired on my device so I don't care, personally :)
  • What Kris said above. Microsoft does warn you that this MAY void your warranty. At least in the US anyway, here carriers will definitely be douchebags and try to pull that line on you lol
  • The only down side is that you miss out on firmware update.... If its Nokia you will no longer have features such as glance, etc
  • Are you sure? :/ I mean, I honestly don't know, that's why I'm asking. This should be an OS upgrade and it shouldn't interfere with firmware. In other words, it's not as if we'll be flashing our devices, this is going to be an OTA upgrade. Gee, I hope it doesn't screw with Nokia's extra goodies but hey, I'll sacrifice that, if need be.
  • No you not opt-ed out Nokia firmware the only real downsize is a company can void the warranty of the phone because its not a hack but its not a real phone companys have the right to not warranty developers devices cause of some clause...its stated in the terms
  • He's wrong, you will not lose Nokia's firmware. They are independant of each other, so in the past, if you used the developer preview and you had amber, you would be updated to GDR3 and retain amber. And then when the carrier officially rolled out Black, then you would get the firmware. The same thing now, you will get 8.1 with all of Nokia Black extra goodies, and then you will get cherry blossom or whatever Nokia's new firmware is called when your carrier releases the official update.
  • I thought Nokia recently updated Glance (and a few other thingys) for 8.1? Or is that just for the official release?
  • Seriously? My 1020 will lose glance?
  • False, glance was available days before Black to any amber Nokia phone or anyone with the preview, you can't go back BUT YOU CAN FLASH ANY PREVIOUS ROM IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT OR HAVE ANY TROUBLE
  • True. In case of Lumia devices one can always use the official recovery tool to flash the latest official (i.e. non preview) combo of OS and firmware.
  • That doesn't sound right. It is not like you lose your current firmware, you just arent getting a new one until it is pushed out by carriers. Some stuff might not work, but we have already seen Glance get an update that mentions WP 8.1
  • I have developer preview and my Lumia features work
  • Are you sure ? I think glance will still work
  • No changes to the firmware.. When I installed the Gdr3 preview over the amber firmware the glance remained untouched :)
  • I don't think you lose the firmware updates you already have, you just don't get the ones that will be bundled with the offical release later on. Maybe it'll be different for 8.1, but I didn't lose Glance going from GDR2 to Update 3.
  • This is not true. You will lose NOTHING that you already have. What you won't get along with the preview is the firmware update that will be released later by Nokia. However, once the final update is released, you get the firmware update and any aditional update to the OS that may come (in GDR3 the preview version was basically the final version of the OS update).
  • You are 100% right
  • You don't lose your firmware updates. If you have the Amber or Black updates you will still have those if you update to 8.1. I have a 920 running GDR3 without black update installed yet I still have all my Amber features.
  • Wrong. Past firmware is still active.
  • @traceamar That isn't true. You'll just get the OS updates long before the firmware update is publicly released.
  • What the blankety blank are you talking about?lol I am in the developer's program and I did not miss any updates or specific Nokia firmware updates. You do not miss out on anything by doing this. It's one of the best things Microsoft has done for its customers.
  • That's not true you will still have custom firmware functionality
  • not accurate, you keep what you have but anything made incompatible stops, and any new features requiring the new firmware don't activate. We had glance in the last one but not the features from Glance Black and the other Black improvments but everything from Amber was still there. IIRC Storyteller stopped for a bit because it was only coded to work with GDR 2 and Amber or GD3 and Black not GDR3 and Amber
  • black came out later and everything was the same as the carrier versions or the ones that came out of the box with black and GDR3
  • I don't believe you are right about that.
  • @traceamar - you are wrong...
    ....................
    1. This is OS update, it will not change your existing firmware. i.e. Lumia BLACK, it will remain the same...
    ....................
    2. You will not get new Nokia firmware with this, that will come later...
    ....................
    3. If (and it is a big IF) there are changes in SDK then certain Nokia features might not work as intended until Nokia updates those independent apps to work on 8,1, like Glance screen...
    ....................
    4. Once Nokia and carrier realese final version of OS together with new Nokia firmware, you phone will get this update and everything will be the same no one can tell that you had preview version installed before...
  • This is false. The Developer Preview doesn't interfere with OEM and carrier firmware, the OS and firmware are seperate. As such, one can update the OS to Windows Phone 8.1, and still be on their current firmware (likely Lumia Black, for a large percentage of people reading this). Granted, Windows Phone 8.1 is a very major overhaul, so it's likely that older firmware may encounter some problems and issues. Shouldn't be anything too major and/or severe, and all such kinks will be worked out when your OEM and carrier push out their official update (rumored to be Lumia Blue for Nokia devices).
  • Don't worry about the glance and other Nokia goodies. They will be there, traceamar is talking nonsense.
  • You'll likely lose warranty.
  • Don't know if it voids the warranty or not. All I can say is that I had to bring my 920 to a Nokia repair center cause it stopped vibrating (not a sw problem, mechanical failure) they repaired it under warranty and I had the preview installed.
  • No, that's a carrier specific thing. Verizon did not end my warranty when I installed developer/GDR3.
  • Don't know if it's carrier specific. I'm not on Verizon tho, I'm in the EU and I went directly to an authorized repair center which sent the phone to Nokia.
  • Microsoft is mostly saying this to cover their asses, so should a repair center try to be a jerk in regards to warrenty, Microsoft won't have people coming after them. In most cases (especially if your device is bricked, which is a likely reason why you're seeking service in the first place), a service center won't be able to tell if you have the Developer Preview installed. Furthermore, once you receive the official update from your OEM and carrier, it will be impossible to tell the Developer Preview was ever installed to begin with. By using the Developer Preview, you do indeed run the risk of bricking your device, or encountering some killer bug that ruins your phone. However, this is true of any OS update, and the Developer Preview is pretty much the final release version that was shipped out to OEMs. As such, seeing as the Developer Preview is in such a finalized and polished state: I encourage everyone to indulge. WP8.1 is truly the update we've been waiting for, and I see no reason to wait any longer than necessary.
  • The Devs Preview app itself warns you about the downsides. You will NOT opt-out of firmware updates as someone uninformed said and you won't have any problems with Nokia's or any other software beyond those you may already have due to hardware limitations on your device. However, you will CERTAINLY void your warranty. It's not a "you might" as some people think, it's a total certainty. Nonetheless, if you own a Nokia device, you could always flash your old ROM with the official Nokia software to flash ROMs (I don't remember its name now) and that should be enough to get back your warranty.
  • No downside that I've experienced. The tremendous upside is that you can run the latest version of the OS without having to wait for your manufacturer and carrier to approve.
  • If you read the terms and condition, there is a section saying that the software MAY cause irreparable damage to your phone or data, in which case Microsoft will not take responsibility for it.
  • D-10
  • Having an actual date is comforting. That being said, I probably won't sleep for the next 10 days but hey, at least we will be entertained by all the official announcements this week. :)
  • Build has me covered for now. Just want to have official word on what they've been working on all along. Hope Cortana doesn't disappoint though.
  • She won't, as long as they don't region lock it, as rumored. :) I mean, I'm aware she won't be speaking Croatian any time soon but I hope at least they will let us all play with her in English.
  • That sounds naughty
  • The different English accents may be a problem for her :D
  • I've put a reminder on my phone not just to download 8.1 when it's released but to make a decision on whether I'm gonna keep Cortana as "Cortana" or switch to the male voice and call him "Jarvis" :P I'll probably stick with Cortana as I love Halo but never say never
  • Haha, or Alfred?! ;)
  • Sorry, you have miscalculated days. That would be atleast 20 days without sleep. Once you get this update, you going to need another 10 sleepless night to play with all this goodness...lol :)
  • You know, you're absolutely right. :) Better stock up on Red Bull.
  • Comforting news
  • Yes! At least we can all start counting down ...
  • "weeks before “official”"... Would be better to say "months before", right? :D
    Many carriers around the world still didnt approve Update 3, wich is in fact a small update... Now imagine a massive update like the 8.1...
  • Letting carriers interfere with OS updates is the stupidest thing ever, imo. But I suppose they all have to dance to the carriers' tune otherwise sales would come to a screeching halt.
  • At&t add months!
  • Exactly! and for the "rest of the world" see this http://www.nokia.com/global/support/software-update/wp8-software-update/ Click on those 6 regional links and find how many devices are still waiting for approval for Lumia Black... Microsoft and Nokia have given un