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Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana assistant at Build 2014

Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1Microsoft has shown off their new updates for both the Windows 8.1 desktop and mobile OS during their Build 2014 keynote. The reveal is an effort to hook developers that have so far been far from enthusiastic about the latest Windows version.

They have shown off the 8.1 updates at the Build 2014 conference. Their annual event draws developers and tech industry leaders from all over the world. Today they had two major announcements: no licensing fees for OEM and ODM partners working on smartphones and tablets with screens under 9″ (which is most), and a converged developer platform.

Of course, none of these look at the update itself, rather opportunities for those who plan on continue working with the platform. For the update, not a whole lot has  been changed. They claim the OS will be easier to use and more intuitive, with improvements to the interface for mouse and keyboard users. Mobile users will also now have access to Cortana, the digital personal assistant that runs on Bing. At this moment Cortana will be launched in Beta just in the U.S. with more countries to follow at the end of this year.

Apps should be better integrated into all Windows run devices thanks to some adaptions to developers tools.

The news today shines a light on continued Windows innovation in ways that benefit our customers, partners and developers alike, OS group vice president  Terry Myerson said.

Our commitment is to make Windows more personal and accessible to individuals, and to ensure a vibrant ecosystem through closer collaboration with our industry partners.

But do these updates really show that?

Every other Windows release sucks. It is like clockwork, with the same consistency that you see from Star Trek movies. Without fail, something amazing will be followed by something that produces only bitter disappointment. On their blog Microsoft likes to talk about Word Flow Keyboard as the new keyboard in Windows Phone 8.1 is “smart enough to learn your writing style and even knows the names of people in your contacts for faster typing”. A kid that used this new Word Flow Keyboard officially broke the official record previously hold by Swype keyboard by 8 seconds.

That was the expectation with Windows 8, and yet a furtive hope remained in both developers and users alike that perhaps this time, the curse would be broken.

Alas, it was not to be. The moment the dev beta was released for Windows 8, there were complaints. Which were addressed with some updates prior to the full release, but not enough to deal with the many issues that have made it a very unpopular piece of software. This time it appears that Microsoft made some tweaks here and there on Calendar, Music, Photos & Camera apps.

One thing that became immediately apparent with these updates is that they are rather small. That shouldn’t surprise anyone; Microsoft is already reportedly looking toward their next release, at which time Windows 8 will be banished to the land of Vista with all the other OS rejects.

But I am not a developer…maybe the changes are much more exciting than they sound to me, an average user? I have trouble believing so, but welcome any Windows 8 supporters to explain to me why this is a big deal.

As for other news coming from the event, Nokia has released details about the Lumia 930, Lumia 635 and the dual-SIM Lumia 630. So if you are in the market for a new, cheap smartphone, you’re in luck.

Source: Microsoft

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