Microsoft Hits Go On Windows Phone 8.1 For Lumia Handsets

Starting today, Nokia Lumia handsets running Windows Phone 8 will begin to receive Windows Phone 8.1 along with a Nokia-sourced updated called Cyan. Microsoft recently purchased Nokia’s hardware assets. The 8.1 update will land in pieces, depending on the carrier in question.

Windows Phone 8.1, announced in April, brings a number of updates to Microsoft‘s mobile platform, including an improved more customizable home screen, Wi-Fi tools to preserve cellular data, and, most importantly, Cortana.

Cortana is Microsoft’s digital personal assistant that it hopes will become a smarter, more useful Siri. Cortana is designed, according to the company, to process and learn from data that it intakes, meaning that it should rapidly become more intelligent the more that people use it. With Windows Phone 8.1 now rolling out, it should see a boost in usage, and thus usefulness.

For a deeper look into Windows Phone 8.1, TechCrunch has you covered. The Cyan update hits what you would expect: Nokia-built apps like Creative Studio and Storyteller.

According to The Verge’s Tom Warren, the option to set Internet Explorer’s default search-option to Google has been removed on some new Lumia handsets that ship with Windows Phone 8.1. This would increase platform lock-in towards Bing, Microsoft’s own search engine. I have a request for comment into Microsoft on the matter. Hopefully it’s a mistake and not an intentional action.

In June, more than 7 percent of Windows Phone handsets were already running Windows Phone 8.1, which Microsoft made easy to secure early if a user wanted. Microsoft started selling new devices running the fresh code in the last month.

As Windows Phone 8.1 itself becomes prevalent, it’s worth meditating on the imminent demise of Windows Phone 7.8, which never had a fighting chance.