A leaker took to Reddit earlier today and listed details of Microsoft’s coming Windows Phone 8.1 surfaced through early access to the update’s software development kit (SDK).
In addition to a host of feature upgrades, the changes include work by Microsoft to bring Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows RT closer together. That aligns with the statements of Microsoft executive Julie Larson-Green: “We have the phone OS, we have Windows RT, and we have full Windows. We are not going to have three.” It has been mostly clear that Microsoft intends — given that it cannot, and will not end the desktop-friendly flavor of Windows — to merge, in some capacity, Windows RT and Windows 8.1.
Today’s leaks, as noted above, fit that model. Microsoft declined to comment.
Unifying the Windows Phone and Windows RT application experiences would allow for cross-pollination of each platform’s extant and future app catalogs, perhaps driving increased developer interest in the larger Windows platform.
As Tom Warren of The Verge notes, the new SDK’s developer elements point to Microsoft in the future allowing Windows Phone and Windows Store applications to run side by side on any device.
Also in Windows Phone 8.1 are a notification center, Internet Explorer 11, an improved YouTube experience, separate Video and Music applications, reformed multitasking, changes to how accounts are handled (no more Facebook, it seems, and the addition of iCloud), and more. The full list isn’t clear yet as we haven’t had a full, public look at the code.
However, given that Microsoft appears to be distributing the code to developers, expect more to shake loose. Bad news for Microsoft? Not really. In fact, they must have anticipated this. None of the above is damaging to the company, except that their future thunder has been partially attenuated.
After the disappointingly small Windows Phone 8 Update 3 before the holiday season, Microsoft’s forthcoming smartphone OS update appears to be nearly done, and well-featured. Hopefully at its Build conference, Microsoft will better detail the now-essentially-public impending unification of Windows RT and Windows Phone.