Windows Phone 8.1 Operating System Launches in Asia; US Is Next

Image: Windows Phone 8.1 Operating System Launches in Asia; US Is Next Managing Director Nokia India P. Balaji, left, with Head of Microsoft Smart Devices Vipul Mehrotra display Lumia 630 mobile phones during its launch, in New Delhi, India.

Friday, 16 May 2014 12:27 PM

By Nick Sanchez

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The world's first smartphone featuring the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, the Nokia Lumia 630, shipped to customers in Asia this week as the technology giant continues readying its newest product for the U.S. and Europe.

"We've received a ton of great feedback so far on what people like about Windows Phone 8.1, and some things we can improve," said Microsoft official Brandon LeBlanc, according to PC World.

The new OS is notable for a number of bug fixes and new features, most notably Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistant, a competitor to Siri on the iPhone and Google Now on Android phones.

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Cortana obeys voice commands like Siri, and also utilizes your calendar, contacts, location, and browsing history to personalize the user experience. Cortana can also perform tasks in apps not made by Microsoft, such as adding a movie to your Netflix queue or launching a particular friend's profile on Facebook.

In addition to Cortana, ZDNet also reported new start screen background options, an Action/Notification center, Word Flow keyboard, and built-in enterprise-focused features.

The phone on which you can currently access Cortana, the new Lumia 630, also has a number of sleek hardware features. It sports a 4.5-inch LCD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and a quad-core Snapdragon processor.

It also comes with SensorCore, which acts as a pedometer and movement monitor without draining the phone's battery.

The phone will likely cost around $163 before taxes and any carrier subsidies. A dual-SIM version will also be available for $176.

In other Microsoft news, a new, leaked screenshot found this week appears to show a roadmap for several Microsoft products, including Windows 9 and a cloud-based version of Windows.

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