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A brave new world of Windows Phone is almost upon us, a world of digital assistants, fast connectivity toggles, improved camera and greater support for a wider selection of apps.

It’s time for Windows Phone 8.1, but how on earth do you get it? Is your phone compatible, is your upgrade even available, or will you have to buy a new handset to take advantage of these new tools?

Why You Should Upgrade To Windows Phone 8.1

Let’s get the basics cleared up first. If you’re using Windows Phone 8, the upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1 is absolutely unmissable. Put simply, if you don’t upgrade, you’ll miss out on the often funny Geek Humor Included! Meet Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1 Digital Assistant Geek Humor Included! Meet Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1 Digital Assistant Cortana is the best reason to upgrade your Windows Phone early. Microsoft's answer to Siri offers great features and will make you laugh. Read More and always helpful Cortana How Cortana Became The "Other Woman" In My Life How Cortana Became The "Other Woman" In My Life She appeared one day and changed my life. She knows exactly what I need and has a wicked sense of humour. It's little wonder that I've fallen for the charms of Cortana. Read More , who when not helping you organize your life can get you from A to B more effectively than a human co-pilot How To Use Cortana As Your Personalized Satnav Tool How To Use Cortana As Your Personalized Satnav Tool How would you like a competent co-pilot, who arranges your travels, feeds you with tips and location-based reminders and is sexy, too? Take Cortana everywhere and win at life! Read More .

muo-wp81-cortana-car-drive

But there is more to Windows Phone 8.1 than just Cortana, with a whole host of new features that make the platform even more flexible and usable Get The Most Out Of Windows Phone 8.1 With These Tips Get The Most Out Of Windows Phone 8.1 With These Tips Windows Phone 8.1 offers much more novelty than just Cortana. Let us guide you to the hidden gems. Read More . These features are so good (albeit in some cases, late) that we think they’ll help Windows Phone finally go mainstream Will These New Features Help Windows Phone Go Mainstream? Will These New Features Help Windows Phone Go Mainstream? The Windows Phone 8.1 upgrade is packed with new features that will challenge Android and iOS. Will you upgrade? Read More .

Indeed, you might even have tried Windows Phone 8.1 already, in the shape of the Developer Preview, a fiendishly easy way of getting a working sneak preview How To Upgrade To Windows Phone 8.1 Now How To Upgrade To Windows Phone 8.1 Now If you want to speak to Cortana and get access to other cool new features, you will have to wait until June at least. Unless you'd update early. Like now. Read More with almost all of the features activated.

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How To Upgrade Your Windows Phone 8 Device To 8.1

So, how can you get Windows Phone 8.1 on your Windows Phone 8 handset?

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Well, in theory, it’s simple: you activate Wi-Fi (upgrading over 3G/4G isn’t possible) open Settings, scroll down to phone update, and tap check for updates. This will prompt your phone to check with the Windows Phone update server, and if an update is available it will be downloaded, ready for you to install.

Roll-out of Windows Phone 8.1 commenced on July 15th, and at the time of writing handsets in the US and UK have received the update, although so far it has been limited to certain devices and carriers/networks. If you’re using a Nokia device, you can check their list of upgrade availability – the Nokia Cyan upgrade includes Windows Phone 8.1 as well as an improved selection of Nokia apps.

When checking the availability of your upgrade, you will notice statuses are listed as “under testing” or “available”. Those devices that are listed as “under testing” clearly don’t have the update available for them at this stage. If this applies to your phone, then you’ll have to wait, perhaps retrying on a daily or weekly basis until the update is ready for your device.

Incidentally, if you installed the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview mentioned above, you’ll need to factory reset your phone before installing the full, official version of Windows Phone 8.1, so use the Nokia list to keep track of when your upgrade is ready, reset your phone, and then check for the update and hopefully install it without waiting too long. Of course, if you’re using the Developer Preview, then at this point there is no need to remove it as it is being regularly updated, but there will no doubt be a point in time when Microsoft closes it down, so this is worth keeping in mind.

Sadly, there is no way to force the update, as there was for Windows Phone 7’s various updates How To Force An Update On Your Windows Phone How To Force An Update On Your Windows Phone When it was first released, Windows Phone was a new mobile platform that looked and felt great, but wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. Despite the then current state of the smartphone market, the decision... Read More between 2010 and 2012.

Speaking of which…

Windows Phone 7 & 7.8 Devices: Sorry

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I’m always surprised to learn that there are still people using Windows Phone 7 handsets. Released in 2010, the original Windows Phone release was less functional than its Windows Mobile 6.5 predecessor, although the responsiveness of the UI and the inclusion of Xbox Live integration How Xbox Live Users Can Benefit From A Windows Phone How Xbox Live Users Can Benefit From A Windows Phone If you’re a fan of mobile gaming and also own an Xbox 360 console, you might well be aware of Xbox Live, Microsoft’s digital delivery service that also supports multiplayer and most importantly allows you... Read More made it particularly interesting. Sadly, that version didn’t really reach maturity until Windows Phone 7.8 came along Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade? As a long term user of Windows Phone 7, the decision to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 was made all the more difficult by Microsoft’s revelation that they wouldn’t be completely abandoning the older release.... Read More , around the same time as Windows Phone 8.

If you weren’t aware already, the situation is this: Windows Phone 8 has a minimum hardware requirement, which is above that of Windows Phone 7/7.8. As a result, if you bought a Windows Phone 7 or 7.8 device, you cannot update it to Windows Phone 8 or 8.1.

Not one of Microsoft’s best decisions.

Upgrade Now: Buy A New Device

So, did your update work, or are you still waiting for it to be made available? Perhaps you’re still using a Windows Phone 7 device, or considering switching from Android or iOS or even Blackberry (although given recent improvements to their own mobile OS that might be unwise Living with a BlackBerry: Lame Duck or Genuine Android Alternative? Living with a BlackBerry: Lame Duck or Genuine Android Alternative? The new BlackBerry Z10 is certainly impressive – but how does using it compare with using a new Android or Windows Phone handset? I decided to find out. Read More ).

The easy way, of course, is to buy a new handset. The Nokia Lumia 930, for instance, is pulling in rave reviews, much like its predecessor the Nokia Lumia 920 Nokia Lumia 920 Review & Giveaway Nokia Lumia 920 Review & Giveaway A couple of weeks ago, Nokia introduced two new devices to the world: the Nokia Lumia 925 and the Nokia Lumia 928. The top notch of Windows Phone 8 devices, these two smartphones will only... Read More . Meanwhile, you might prefer to hold off for now; the expected release of the HTC One W8, a Windows Phone 8.1 version of the HTC One M8, seems likely to offer a strong alternative to Nokia’s devices.

Are you using the full, official Windows Phone 8.1 update already, or have you been frustrated by delays in the roll-out? Use the comments to let us know.

Featured image credit: PlaceIt

  1. Nakshathra
    September 10, 2014 at 5:54 am

    To Get Windows 8.1 Update On Lumia 520,620,720,525,625,820 Or Any Windows 8 Phones
    techrulz.com/2014/08/how-to-download-windows-phone-81-update.html

  2. Jeremy
    September 7, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Got630 and have Cortana.

  3. Frank
    August 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Has anyone had the issue of the Nokia 820 just freezing up for a few days? Mine did about 6 months ago, and when I went to the Verizon dealer, they said there was nothing they could do, but they would be happy to sell me a new phone. It turned back on after about four days. It happened again this month, and after about two weeks, it came back on line.

  4. kiran
    August 26, 2014 at 4:32 am

    I updated my mobile to 8.1 then after I got app Cortana but when I open its say I'm afraid. And not supported in ur region .what use of this ?

  5. Kevin Schulz
    August 21, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Are the carriers responsible for rolling out this upgrade or is microsoft? I use H2O and wouldn't expect to get the update from them. I've been waiting for Microsoft/Nokia to send it out.

  6. Mike Garrovillo
    August 19, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    I like my Nokia Lumia 920, just wish At&t would release the 8.1 update. Has anyy At&t customers gotten the upgrade?

  7. Ben W
    August 18, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Windows Phone 7 was my first smartphone in 2010-11. I've never really been one for apps, so it rarely bothered me when my iOS or Android-owning friends had things I didn't.
    Having moved from a Razr flip phone to an HTC HD7, WP7's missing basic features like copy-paste never really occured to me as issues. However, starting with WP7.5 "Mango" update, I started to realize why things like multi-tasking on a phone could be useful features.
    My carrier at the time (T-mobile) never rolled out the WP7.8 update by the time one of the main navigation buttons started to die, and I upgraded straight to a WP8 HTC 8x. From there I really started to make use of more smartphone features, like maps, notes, email, and internet, instead of just text and talk. However, it still felt lacking compared to iOS and Android, despite expanding its own app store by so much.

    However, finally after sticking with Windows Phones for so long, I can finally say that WP8.1 feels like a fully functioning OS that can fully compete with Android or iOS. I'll be the first to admit that the apps are still lacking, but are still catching up.
    I've been thoroughly impressed with Cortana, and everything looks and feels rather slick.
    My only real complaint has been that the default map app has a few new, odd quirks that make it annoying to use, that weren't really an issue before. It looks nicer, but that's about it. Really hope Microsoft takes a few notes from Google on this, since it's one of the main apps I use.

  8. Tina
    August 18, 2014 at 1:09 am

    The rest of the world seems to have this new update but not Verizon.....lets go Verizon!!!

  9. andrea
    August 17, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Verizon. Midwest-USA. Still no 8.1.

  10. Shun Di
    August 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Your brother must be cooler than you :) This upgrade could be a game changer.

  11. TukuWaka
    August 15, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Have been using the 8.1 preview since the hour it was available. Really an awesome update to WP8. The Update1 to Wp8.1 is even better with hooks for Accessories.

  12. Col. Panek
    August 15, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    I saw a Windows Phone once. My brother has one; he works for Microsoft.

  13. Karl S
    August 15, 2014 at 3:29 am

    I am still wondering when we can download Windows Phone 8/8.1 and install it on an Android phone.

    • TukuWaka
      August 15, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      Nope... Not possible at the moment and it not for the lack of trying by some people with incredible skills ( not working for Nokia, MS or OEMs ) either.

  14. Shannon
    August 15, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Wish Verizon would hurry Nokia 928 seems like I been waiting months and months. Can't wait!!

  15. jack
    August 14, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I have the Lumina 925 and I'm still waiting for t mobile to release 8.1

  16. jeff
    August 14, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    still waiting! cmon Verizon!!!

    • Jimmy C.
      August 14, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Same here, I was wondering I have the Samsung Odyssey ATIV I-930 running Windows 8. Will I be able to get Cortana / Windows 8.1 on this phone one day? If so does anybody know when.
      Please help, thank you.

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