Windows Phone 8.1 comes with a lot of new features, including Cortana (a personal assistant that may remind you of the iPhone’s Siri) and the Storage Sense setting, which lets you store your larger games and apps on a microSD card. Because Windows Phones are much better about getting updates than Android devices are, you’ll probably be able to try it out soon, on the device that you have.
What if you could use it today, though? Here’s a walk through for how to install the latest Windows Phone 8.1 update on your device, using nothing but official, Microsoft apps.
Sign up for an App Studio account
The app that lets you unlock your phone is called “Preview for Developers,” and is made by Microsoft to let app developers try out the latest updates before everyone else. Fortunately, you can use it without paying the $19 fee to register for the Windows Store, or even knowing how to write code.
How? Windows Phone App Studio lets you create your own apps without writing any programming code. You can install up to two apps that you create on your personal phone, or even put them up on the Store if you pay that $19 fee. What’s more, signing up for App Studio qualifies you to install the Preview for Developers app, and is completely free.
Install the “Preview for Developers” app
Once you install and activate this app, your phone will check for updates directly from Microsoft, and not from your carriers. That means you’ll get the latest version of the Windows Phone operating system at all times.
Please read Microsoft’s important notes before doing this.
Check for updates
Your phone will automatically check for updates every so often. If you want it to do so right now, go to Settings -> phone update, and tap “check for updates.”
Update your phone … twice
My Windows Phone got two separate updates today. There was a message explaining that the first one was to prepare it to run Windows Phone 8.1.
You may not be able to update if you don’t have enough space left on your phone. (I have too many games!) It will tell you if this is a problem. Don’t worry if you’ve run into bugs with the amount of free storage space before; I didn’t have that trouble with the update, and Windows Phone 8.1 will fix it forever by letting you put stuff on the SD card. Just clear out some old games or apps, and then press “check for updates” again.
The two updates together might take an hour or more to download and install. This happens automatically, although you need to okay the download and the installation separately for each one, so you’ll want to check on it every so often. (I recommend that you wait until you have a good Wi-Fi signal and can plug your phone into a charger.) If it doesn’t offer to install Windows Phone 8.1 right after the first update installs, just tap “check for updates” a second time.
And you’re done!
Have fun with the new features in Windows Phone 8.1!