Windows Phone 8.1, the revision to Microsoft's mobile OS that has taken longer to manifest than Windows 8.1, might finally show up this week or next, along with its first update.
Windows Phone 8.0 came out in October 2012. That's 20 months between major releases if 8.1 shows up this month, longer than the gap between Windows 8 and 8.1, and far, far longer than the updates between iOS and Android.
Fortunately, there's a lot to love in this point release, which is really closer to a full revision. The big addition is Cortana, the voice assistant, along with the App Framework that makes it easier for Windows 8.1 apps to be ported between a PC and phone.
Well, the news site Neowin is claiming that Windows Phone 8.1 has been done for a while, and not only will it be pushed out soon, so will the first update to the OS, called a General Distribution Release (GDR). The GDR will be relatively minor, with a small set of enhancements, such as native folder support. That will enable users to create folders of tiles by dropping a tile on top of another, something iOS and Android have had for a while.
Of course, first thing we need is WP 8.1. Microsoft has kept the release date quiet, but someone from Microsoft India tweeted that the OS could roll out in the first or second week of July. He didn't say if that's for the U.S., India (where WP is popular), or worldwide.
Given the GDR hasn't even shown up on the developer network for testing, we can only take this with a few grains of salt. If Microsoft does indeed have an update ready to go this fast, then it's more evidence of its plans to reduce the time between software updates, something CEO Satya Nadella has promised.
I just hope it does something to get WP moving. This 3% market share is pitiful, as is the lack of apps. As a WP phone owner (Samsung ATIV SE), I'm getting tired of searching for apps and coming up empty. As Beta News noted, the Windows Phone app store is a ghost town, not an encouraging sign for a platform that is solid and should be a lot more popular than it is.
I'm not clamoring to return to the iPhone, but I'm not blindly loyal, either.