We’re at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and the first stop on a whirlwind day preceding the main show was Microsoft’s press conference.
First on stage was Joe Belfiore, the man in charge of operating systems at Microsoft. He confirmed that the updates to both Windows 8.1 and the Windows Phone update would take place in the Northern Hemisphere Spring which would put it sometime before the end of May in South Africa.
The Windows 8.1 update, as expected, will bring a much-needed upgrade to the Windows 8 user experience for those who don’t have a touch screen enabled machine. Upgrades include making the Power and Settings buttons more visible as well as adding a right click option for the tiles on the ‘Metro’ tiled interface. It seems as though the leaked slides from earlier in the month were spot on about the new features coming in the update.
The minimum spec requirement for Windows 8.1 machines will also drop down to 1GB of RAM and just 16GB of physical storage, so be prepared for a new wave of cheaper Windows 8 tablets by the end of the year.
Windows Phone will be getting the upgrade before the end of May as well and once again it looks like some of the leaked features that have been cropping around the internet for the last few months have been bang on the money.
Changes to the requirements for manufacturers making Windows Phones were also front and centre during the presentation, specifically focusing on how they would bring down the cost of making Windows Phones in the future. For example the physical hardware button requirements as well as the camera button requirements are falling away and being replaced with software buttons instead and apps can now be installed onto SD cards which will mean smaller storage options that will make Windows Phones even cheaper.
Good news for Africa is that dual-SIM capability is coming to Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft has also opened a new portal for anyone to create a Windows Phone using a Qualcomm reference design once again lowering the price for a Windows Phone manufacturer.