Microsoft is about to rollout their next Windows Phone update, referred to as General Distribution Release 2 (GDR2), which will bring minor enhancements and fixes such as CalDAV and CardDav support, FM Radio, Data Sense, Xbox Music, Skype and IE enhancements, and more. But details regarding what’s coming next are scarce. We know that the future roadmap includes another minor GDR update – called GDR3, as well as a major upgrade codenamed “Blue”, but exactly what each of these updates entails remains a mystery.
The Verge today reports that Microsoft is currently in a “shut up and ship” mode, where majority of the Windows Phone team’s efforts are towards the “Blue” update. The GDR updates instead are predominantly focussed on addressing feature requests from OEMs and vendors, including Nokia, which explains the lack of major features in the GDR1 (Portico) and GDR2 updates. In addition, bugs in the software have caused delays to the shipment schedule, with the “Blue” update not expected to be ready until early 2014.
Given the situation, The Verge reports that Microsoft is currently considering back-porting some of the planned “Blue” features into the GDR3 update. One of these features includes a rotation lock option. The GDR3 update is also expected to bring support for 5 to 6 inch phones, 1080p resolution, and quad-core chipsets – features most likely to be at the request from OEMs such as HTC and Nokia.
Windows Phone “Blue”
Microsoft gave some teases and hints regarding what’s coming in Windows Phone “Blue” during the Worldwide Partner Conference 2013 this week. This includes improvements to the Bing and Skype apps, Start Screen innovations, as well as having a common app platform with Windows. Microsoft also announced an “enterprise feature pack” this week, expected to come along with “Blue”, and it will finally bring VPN support to Windows Phone users.
In addition to the above, according to The Verge, Windows Phone “Blue” is also expected to bring the following to users:
- Notification center
- Improved multitasking
- Changes to built-in apps
Thanks to an accidental leak earlier this year, early prototype screenshots of the first two – the notification center and improved multitasking screen – were leaked to the web. It remains to be seen what “changes to built-in apps” mean, and what kind of innovation will Microsoft bring to these apps.
We certainly hope Microsoft could back-port more planned features to GDR3, bring some innovation to the platform as soon as possible. However, we probably won’t be expecting any significant upgrades to the Windows Phone OS this year, despite the OS is still lagging behind other platforms in particular areas. With Apple’s iOS7 and Google’s Android 5.0 expected later this year, we’re starting to worry if Microsoft can catch up their pace to the competition. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.