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Windows Phone 8.1 brings a host of desirable updates and improvements to the platform – but waiting until June for the earliest chance of an upgrade is too long for some. Upgrading will give you access to the new Cortana voice-command system, a key reason to get hold of the update as soon as possible. Is there any way of getting the update early?

Is It Safe To Upgrade Now?

Before proceeding, be aware that by installing the Windows Phone 8.1 update, you’ll be voiding your warranty until the full update is issued. Additionally, it will only be the stock version without any enhancements released by your phone’s manufacturer, and there will be no way to revert to the original ROM. There is also an increased chance of some data loss when using the pre-release version of the upgrade on things like contacts, email, videos, photo and apps & games.

Bearing in mind the above, any changes you make to your Windows Phone 8 device are purely in your own hands.

Register As A Developer

In the early days of Windows Phone, developer registration was expensive. Things have come along somewhat since 2010, however, and now you can gain access to developer tools and the preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 without spending a penny.

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Head to http://appstudio.windowsphone.com to set your Microsoft account (perhaps a Live, Hotmail, Xbox or Outlook account) as a developer. Setting up the account is free and you could use it to list your own apps for cheap. Creating Windows 8 apps isn’t hard, as shown in our quick guide to Windows Phone App Studio You Need No Development Skills to Create Professional Windows Phone Apps You Need No Development Skills to Create Professional Windows Phone Apps App development on Windows Phone has been restricted to those with knowledge of programming – until now. With Windows Phone App Studio you can create your own apps – but what, exactly, can you do... Read More .

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Prepping For Windows Phone 8.1

To download the update to your phone you will need at least 3GB of space on your device, so spend some time cleaning up. All of your data and games will be lost, so keep this in mind before proceeding. Backing up can take time, but if you have the automatic backup of photos and movies to your OneDrive active Share Movies, Photos, And Documents From Windows Phone With SkyDrive Share Movies, Photos, And Documents From Windows Phone With SkyDrive One of the improvements delivered with Windows Phone 8 is enhanced support for SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage system that enables users to upload and sync photos, music, video and more between different devices. Up against... Read More , this shouldn’t be too painful. Before proceeding, ensure your phone is fully charged.muo-wp81-dev-upgrade-newproject

With your device ready for the upgrade, click the My Projects button on the Windows Phone App Studio page then Start new project. Do nothing else with this!

Next, switch to your phone and open the Store, searching for Preview for Developers. Read the details for the app, taking note of the various caveats, some of which we’ve outlined above. Tap Install to proceed.

Ready To Upgrade!

With the app installed, you’ll be ready to begin your Windows Phone 8.1 experience. For the best results, ensure your device is connected to your local wireless network.

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Browse to the Preview for Developers app on your phone and launch it, tapping Next before reviewing the additional terms & conditions. When you tap accept, you’ll be prompted to sign in with your Microsoft account.

Once signed in, check the Enable Preview for Developers option and tap done to enroll you in the preview. You’ll be heralded with the message “Success!” – tap done once again to proceed.

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Open Settings > Phone update and tap check for updates. The update will download, and then you’ll be prompted to install it. You can choose to postpone or proceed with the install.

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Completion takes 5-10 minutes, during which time the device will restart several times. You may also be required to unlock your phone to allow the data migration portion of the upgrade to take place.

Note that the update takes place in several stages, so don’t assume that it has completed when the phone reboots – instead, read the messages carefully, and wait until the final confirmation message is displayed. In total, the process probably takes up to an hour.

You’ll then be ready to use Windows Phone 8.1!

Using Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview

With your Windows Phone 8 device now sporting the developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1, you’ll be able to spend the next few months using the majority of features set to be included in the update before it is widely available.

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Among these features is Cortana, the Google Now and Siri rival. Although the standard voice command tool on Windows Phone Windows Phone 8 Voice Recognition Tips and Tricks Windows Phone 8 Voice Recognition Tips and Tricks Why would you pick up your phone if you could just tell it what to do? Windows Phone 8 has several very good speech recognition options. Give laziness and productivity a boost with our tips... Read More is adequate, the introduction of Cortana is a big step towards parity with Microsoft’s competitors.

Cortana is currently officially limited to users in the USA.

Other features you might look at are the improved podcast app or setting a Start screen background. You’ll find over 100 enhancements in Windows Phone 8.1, the most important of which we recently covered. You should be aware that many apps will need updating after you have completed the upgrade; some may not work at all.

Will you be upgrading early? Have you run into any problems? Let us know in the comments.

  1. George c stiefel
    March 15, 2015 at 2:25 am

    active Cortana for me I need it to turn on now so I can l learn ????

  2. Franklin
    March 13, 2015 at 4:09 am

    How do deactivate the voice command and the yellow borders from my Bush Windows 8.1 phone.

    • Christian Cawley
      March 16, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Tell us more about these yellow borders?

  3. Myuran
    August 29, 2014 at 7:48 am

    YAY! Thanks for this...installing now.

  4. Vijaykishen.
    August 15, 2014 at 5:05 am

    I'm on WP 8.1 update (DP) version:8.10.14147.180. Model:1520.1--RM937-apac-malasia-941 and I'm from India. Read that I will get CYAN update without going through downgrading to DP8. Checking phone updates to no good. Please help what I should do?

    • Christian C
      August 15, 2014 at 6:53 am

      It probably depends on a combination of carrier and device. For instance there are currently a lot of people struggling to install the latest DP update, and it seems likely that if this problem isn't resolved a reset to WP8 is the best way to get the official upgrade.

  5. Ger
    July 13, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Followed your instructions...... My Nokia Lumia 520 has been updated to Windows Phone 8.1 preview. Great Stuff! I'm in the UK.

  6. Jayaram Krishnaswamy
    July 13, 2014 at 1:50 am

    I have Windows Phone 8.1 Preview. Is Windows Phone 8.1 available for general download (has the preview period ended?)

  7. Max
    July 12, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I have gone through all the steps and then when I check for an update, it says my phone is already up to date. Any suggestions?

    • Christian C
      July 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Strange: have you got confirmation from MS that your developer preview account is active? And the app successfully installed?

      If so, I would suggest restarting your phone and seeing if you can "run" preview for developers from the app list. Let us know how it goes.

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