Windows Phone 8.1 to get at least two OS updates in 2014

New information revealed to Windows Phone Central confirms that Microsoft is planning at least two OS updates for Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014. Internally known as ‘general distribution releases – or GDRs –  GDR1 and GDR2 are already on the roadmap for this year, with a possible third one in 2015 before the next OS revision, codenamed ‘Threshold’.

It should be of little surprise that Microsoft plans on repeating the same update schedule for Windows Phone 8 for 8.1, as it has proven to be a relatively successful method for adding new features to the OS and keeping Windows Phone in the news. A twelve-month cycle for major OS revisions also seems to be the new norm both for Phone and Windows.

As to what will be in Update 1 and Update 2 for Windows Phone 8.1, we’re not entirely sure. There’s little doubt that one of those will probably include the so-far secret ‘3D gesture system’ that powers mystery device ‘Goldfinger’ as revealed by the Verge. That technology could prove to a real game changer by not requiring any buttons for user interaction. I’ve noted previously that Goldfinger is not expected to be ready until Q1 2015.

I’ve also heard rumblings of a dual-lens phone from Nokia later this year, where two cameras would be used perhaps for a multi-focus, Lytro type effect. Extensions of the OS for support of both of those features would be required for new hardware. More than likely we’ll also see the usual bug fixes and minor feature improvements as well in those GDR updates.

As to time frames for the releases, there are two ways to look at it. Going by information we’ve viewed, mid-2014 (June/July) certainly looks plausible and coincides with other information that we’ve overheard. For Update 2, we’re looking at once again a November/December launch, mimicking the Update 3 unveiling.

Like Update 3 for Windows Phone 8.0, a Developer Preview to bypass carriers will presumably be made available, assuming there are no hiccups with the so far successful program.

Windows Phone Threshold, originally revealed by Mary Jo Foley on All About Microsoft, is evidently coming in Spring 2015. Not much is known about that update, including whether or not it will be called Windows Phone 8.2, 8.5 or Windows Phone 9, but it will coincide with the next major update to Windows desktop.

What do you think of Microsoft’s Windows Phone update cadence--still too little or does it feel appropriate for today’s market?

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.