Developers (finally!) get early access to Windows Phone updates

Way back in June 2012, when Microsoft gave us our first glimpse of Windows Phone 8, it promised that "registered enthusiasts [would] get early access to updates before [a] broad consumer push". Later that year, in August, further details emerged, albeit unofficially, of how that might work in practice. But since then, there's been no news, no official announcement, nothing. 

Until now. 

Microsoft has finally announced the Developer Preview Program for Windows Phone, and the best news of all is that it's launching later today. The company says that the purpose of the program is to give devs "early access to our operating system updates so they can verify that their apps work as expected on the new code". In practice, the program is open to pretty much anyone that wants to sign up. 

In order to access the Windows Phone preview program, you'll need to meet one of these pre-requisites:

  1. your phone is 'developer-unlocked';
  2. you are a registered Windows Phone Store developer; or
  3. you are a registered Windows Phone App Studio developer. 

That means that, while the program is ostensibly intended for developers, anyone who has signed up to use the free Windows Phone App Studio - with which Microsoft said that "anyone can build an app" - can also sign up for early access to OS updates. That also means that you can get access to the newly announced Windows Phone 8 Update 3 today, without having to wait for carrier approval!

However, before you jump in, there are a few important notes to consider. First, Microsoft will only be providing early access to its own operating system components; that won't include firmware or driver updates such as the upcoming 'Bittersweet Shimmer' package from Nokia. Your handset's current OS build must be 8.0.10322.71 or higher, along with the corresponding device drivers. 

Additionally, you will only be able to upgrade the OS on your device; there is no way of rolling back to an earlier build once installed.

Finally, and most importantly, Microsoft warns that installing a preview update is likely to void your device warranty, so you should think very carefully about whether or not to install an update preview if you're not technically equipped to deal with any issues that may arise.

Microsoft added that it will make emulator images available for Windows Phone 8 Update 3 "in the next three weeks". The good news for developers is that the company has not made any API changes with this update, so apps should run just fine without any significant changes, although devs may want to optimise layouts for larger 1080p displays. 

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

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20 Comments

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Finally, better late than never I'm sure but I have to wonder if the re-org butting the WP guys in charge of the OS group didn't have a hand in finally bringing this out? Anyways, good news.

I'll consider upgrading a spare device just in case this is a terrible buggy upgrade...given the track record of windows phone and it's horrible storage woes, I'm nervous about playing with beta ware.

neonspark said,
I'll consider upgrading a spare device just in case this is a terrible buggy upgrade...given the track record of windows phone and it's horrible storage woes, I'm nervous about playing with beta ware.
This was already fixed in GDR2, GDR3 has also new storage control stuff.

I have two 920s - one from AT&T and the other from Rogers. Was shocked to see Rogers launch the update months ahead of AT&T. Everytime I picked up the one phone its like 'why isn't the doubletap to wake up working?' before remembering AT&T was so far behind,

C#Rocks said,
I assume this is still beta right ? Not the final code for GDR3 ?
It is the final code, starting today, OEMs and carriers can start testing their devices to get them up and running. Microsoft promised that GDR3 and onwards should roll out faster than 2, so... Anyway: GDR3 should have been finished back in september (but that are rumors).

>However, before you jump in, there are a few important notes to consider. First, Microsoft will only be providing early access to its own operating system components; that won't include firmware or driver updates such as the upcoming 'Bittersweet Shimmer' package from Nokia. Your handset's current OS build must be 8.0.10322.71 or higher, along with the corresponding device drivers.

So if I update my L920 (with amber) to this, will amber features still be present or removed? Can anyone confirm please?

I'm still trying to get HyperV to work properly with the development environment on a laptop. It seems to not like only being connected through wifi or something. Having to set the date back to get it to install was kind of sloppy too. They really need to up their game on developer support.

But I just got GDR2 yesterday! I haven't even set my alarms yet, and was consequently late for work. And now another update!? Microsoft, you're fantastic <3

greenwizard88 said,
But I just got GDR2 yesterday! I haven't even set my alarms yet, and was consequently late for work. And now another update!? Microsoft, you're fantastic <3

Well, by the time it trickles through OEM's and Carriers, it will be a little bit... But it is nice to see that they are working to get these updates out regularly...

anothercookie said,
Wish microsoft would be more like apple with OS updates.

I love having the latest OS even if it's broken.

Do you mean releasing updates without Carrier involvement? If so, I agree! LOL

greenwizard88 said,
But I just got GDR2 yesterday! I haven't even set my alarms yet, and was consequently late for work. And now another update!? Microsoft, you're fantastic <3

I take it you're on AT&T (US)? Well, they were about 3 months late with GDR2 so don't expect GDR3 officially anytime soon.