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If you own a Windows 8-powered device, Microsoft’s looking to get your operating system updated very shortly. While users owning PCs and tablets running the full desktop version of Windows 8 will finally get access to the post-beta version of Windows 8.1 on Thursday, Windows Phone 8 users may have to wait a teeny bit longer—unless, of course, they’re registered as developers, in which case they can download Windows Phone 8 Update 3 later today.

A post on The Verge points out that registered developers—you know, the people who make applications for Windows Phone devices—can go ahead and download the new version of the OS later today in order to start testing out how software will work with the update. Additionally, anyone can join the developer program for an annual $19 fee. But getting the update early only means that you’ll get Microsoft’s half of the equation, meaning that apps that won’t work with Windows Phone 8 Update 3 will stay that way until the app developers release updates of their own. For those who decide to wait for the official release, that’ll show up sometime later this year, or early 2014.

windows-phone-8-update-3So, what’s actually in the update? A post on TechCrunch rattles off the improvements, with the most significant change regarding scalability. According to the post, Windows Phone 8 Update 3 will look and work well on devices sporting typical smartphone-sized displays all the way up to 6-inch screens, while Windows 8.1 will be the OS that scales down to 7-inch displays. The post posits that scaling up to 6-inch displays means that a Windows Phablet (ugh) will soon be in the offing, or at the very least, a new lineup of Windows Phones that offer bigger displays in general. Furthermore, the update will now support the Qualcomm 8974 quad-core chip and 1080p screens, lending further credence to the idea that more powerful, high-definition devices will join the Windows Mobile family soon enough.

On the subject of screens and displays, the OS’s Start Screen has been reconfigured to allow an additional line of tiles. Furthermore, the new update will also add the ability to toggle automatic screen-rotation on and off, an ability I enjoy via a dedicated button on my Windows 8 tablet. That means if you’re using your phone while lying down, you won’t have to keep turning the device in your hands to get a view that makes your eyes happy.

All in all, Windows Phone 8 is getting a visual overhaul that may make lots of current users happy. But will it do enough to make more of a dent in the mobile market currently owned by iOS and Android?


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