Microsoft Releases Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview

The developer preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 was released to developers on Monday morning.

Cliff Simpkins, product manager for Windows and Windows Phone developer experience at Microsoft, announced the release in a blog entry. Simpkins noted that the Windows Phone Store is starting to take app submissions and enable app linking, which allows apps to work across different Windows 8 devices, from desktops and laptops, to tablets and phones (and, eventually, Xbox).

Microsoft announced and previewed these "universal Windows apps" at the Build conference earlier this month.

The developer preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 is important for developers since some aspects of apps need to be tested on real devices, rather than just an emulator. Simpkins, for example, wrote that he uses an emulator for testing whether the code works properly, while using the app on a working Windows Phone provides valuable information about an "app's real-world usability (e.g., touch target sizing, load times)."

As a supplement to the Windows Phone Preview for Developers, MSDN published a reference app to help developers learn how to integrate their apps with Cortana, the new voice assistant that's also part of Windows Phone 8.1. The app, called MSDN Voice Search, provides voice-enabled search capabilities to documentation and source code for building Cortana functionality into new or existing apps.

There are a few requirements to get the Windows Phone Preview for Developers. A developer either needs to register as a Windows Phone developer, which costs $19 annually, or register as a developer with App Studio, which is free. The other option is to download the developer tools to register and "developer unlock" a Windows Phone (Microsoft provides instructions on how to do this).

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.