Joe Belfiore tweeting using an iPhone

Microsoft has announced that Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Phone 8.1 will be coming this spring. In addition, WP users will rejoice Facebook Messenger soon.

In General, the Mobile World Congress is one the largest exhibition for the mobile industry. Today, Microsoft has taken the advantage of the annual Mobile World Congress 2014 and has announced that the first major update to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 will be coming – as always for free – this spring.

In addition, the most-anticipated standalone app for Windows Phone, Facebook Messenger will also be coming in next few weeks.

Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President and Manager for Windows Phone Program Management took the stage at today’s event and discussed a few things on which they’ve been working.

The event in Barcelona is now over and here’s the key highlights from Microsoft.

Windows 8.1 Update 1

First and foremost, Joe said that the first major update to Windows 8.1, rumored and leaked as “Update 1” existed and would be coming “this spring” with tons of changes. This, he says, update is mainly aimed for those users who prefer to use keyboard and mouse over touch gestures or have non-touch systems.

He also confirmed the changes and improvements – largely rumored over the couple of months – like title bar with minimize ad close buttons and snap view options; and power and search buttons on the Start screen.

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From his presentation, the spring update will include:

  • Discoverable Search, Power & Settings on Start
  • New mouse UI for right-click (Start) and close (apps)
  • Easy app launching/switching via the taskbar

Over-all, Microsoft, heard the feedback and complaints since the launch of Windows 8.1 and incorporated those changes that were necessary.

“Some of those touch affordances weren’t tuned as well as we could do for those mouse and keyboard users,” Said Belfiore. “We found people weren’t aware of where they should look in the UI. Those are the things we’ve started to improve for this update coming this spring.”

In the future, low-end Windows 8.1 devices will able to run with 1GB of RAM efficiently, and the OS will require only 16GB of storage space. And it strengths a recent rumor about the drop of Windows 8.1 licensing fees about 70% for devices under $250 for OEMs.

Windows Phone 8.1

While the Redmond tech giant hasn’t unveiled any new device during the event, Microsoft has broken its silence and detailed about Windows Phone 8.1. Joe Belfiore took a moment to highlight the latest Windows Phone features. Specifically, on-screen buttons, new hardware support for Snapdragon 200, 400 and 400 LTE SoC. In addition, Microsoft is also aiding support for Dual-SIM, and the ability to install the app on micro SD cards.

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Joe also acknowledged new Windows Phone hardware partners, which now include Nokia, HTC, Samsung, LG, Foxconn, Huawei, Lenovo, ISR, Karbonn, Longcheer, ZTE, and Xolo.

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We’re not going to announce any new hardware today.

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Though Microsoft didn’t mention the name of the update for neither Windows 8.1 nor Windows Phone 8, however, the updates seem likely to be detailed more and released at its Build developer conference in April.

Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone

Another much welcome app for Windows Phone users, Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone app has also been announced today, which will be available in coming weeks. As usual again, the app is the result of the collaboration between Microsoft and Facebook.

facebook-messener-for-windows-phone

Although, Microsoft was being shunned to say anything about the features, but presumably the app will aim to bring the messaging experience similar to that of Android app.

In the meantime, WP users can pin the messages page of Facebook app for Windows Phone on Start screen to directly open-up chat messages.

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