Windows Phone 8.1 may be "only" a point update from the software that's currently available to consumers, but the update is rumored to be bringing some major changes with it, including a notification center and support for on-screen Back, Start and Search buttons. One detail that we're still without is the timing of the update's release, but that's changed today with a new report that claims to have details on Microsoft's rollout plans.
According to sources speaking to Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet, Microsoft is currently planning to unleash the Windows Phone 8.1 update "later this April." It's expected that the update will be handed off to device manufacturers just before the start of Microsoft's BUILD 2014 conference on April 2, the show at which WP8.1 could make its first official appearance.
Foley goes on to say that she's been told that Microsoft won't be making API changes in Windows 8.1 Update 1 that would bring it closer to Windows Phone 8.1. That change was previously rumored to be coming as well, but now it's said that Microsoft will instead focus on making Windows 8.1 Update 1 more useful to its business customers.
While the rumored removal of those API changes is kind of a bummer, there are still plenty of goodies expected to make the cut in Windows Phone 8.1 to look forward to. In addition to the aforementioned additions of a notification center and on-screen buttons, we've also heard that Microsoft is planning to include things like a Google Now/Siri-esque personal assistant, separate volume controls for the ringer and media playback and expanded support for Twitter and Facebook in the People Hub. Overall it sounds like Windows Phone 8.1 is going to be pretty big for Microsoft's platform and its users. Good thing that the start of the rollout is only a few more months out, huh?