By Alexandra Burlacu | Jul 17, 2013 10:27 AM EDT
Microsoft is reportedly preparing a massive Windows Blue update for 2014, while a potential GDR3 update might arrive later this year with support bigger, faster, higher-resolution devices.
Windows Phone 8 (WP8) was a major improvement over the previous Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. It helped Microsoft boost its market share, especially due to Nokia's Windows Phone devices, but the company has yet to secure a significant foothold in the highly-competitive smartphone market. Windows Phone's market share is still in the low single digits, while Android and iOS only seem to soar.
WP8 brought support for key features such as microSD cards and multi-core processors, but Microsoft has not released any major update yet. The company finally released the changelog for its upcoming update, the General Distribution Release 2 (GDR2), but it revealed no major changes.
The GDR2 update will add improvements to Xbox Music, will bring an FM radio feature and will allow users to set a camera Lens as the default camera app, among other things. The update will also offer some stability improvements and minor changes, but nothing major so far.
According to The Verge, however, that's actually a good thing. Microsoft reportedly entered a "shut up and ship" mode, focusing more on a massive Windows Phone Blue update slated to launch in 2014, so that's why it hasn't delivered any significant changes yet.
"The future update, expected in early 2014, looks set to include a notification center, improved multitasking, and changes to built-in apps," The Verge reported. "We understand that Microsoft is considering back porting some of the 'Blue' features, including a rotation lock option, to a GDR3 update due later this year. Any ported features are said to support future hardware arriving later this year, and sometimes at the request of specific phone makers like Nokia."
Not a single Windows Phone 8 device currently available on the market packs a quad-core chipset, and none of them sports a "phablet"-like screen size. The GDR3 update, however, may change all that, as Microsoft is reportedly planning to extend support to 5- and 6-inch devices with 1080p displays and quad-core chipsets. This update is expected to arrive by the end of the year, but no exact release date is available yet.
The Windows Phone Blue update, meanwhile, will reportedly bring notable new features such as a notification center, better multitasking and changes to WP8 pre-installed apps. Some of those features may become available earlier as part of the rumored GDR3 update.
If Microsoft will finally support powerful, quad-core phablets by the end of the year it may see a significant boost in market share. High-end devices boast 1080p displays and quad-core processors such as the Snapdragon 600 and the latest Snapdragon 800, while Windows Phone 8 devices are still packing dual-core chipsets and lower-resolution displays. Windows Phone has a lot of catching up to do, but this may be the break it needs.
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