Windows Phone 8.1 is focused on improving Microsoft's viability at the low-end of the market

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain has officially kicked off and there are plenty of big announcements that will come along in the next few days (including the unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S5). But today, Microsoft is shedding a little bit of light on its smartphone operating system: Windows Phone.
Microsoft made a ground up redesign of its mobile operating system with Windows Phone 7, and refined those efforts with Windows Phone 8. Now, Windows Phone 8.1 will soon be upon us to further cements the platform as a solid #3 in the smartphone marketplace.
“We are making it easier, faster and more affordable for partners to develop a Windows Phone,” said Nick Parker, corporate vice president of the OEM Division at Microsoft.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft is adding support for Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and 400 processors, on-screen virtual hardware buttons, and the ability to install apps to microSD card. All of these moves will allow OEMs to produce cheaper hardware in an effort to boost Windows Phone market share.
Windows Phone 8.1 will also include dual-SIM support, which is directly aimed at emerging markets.
Besides new features being added to Windows 8.1 itself, Microsoft also announced new hardware partners including Foxconn, Gionee, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer, JSR, Karbonn and ZTE.
“We are pleased to add these new partners to our expanding Windows Phone ecosystem. They will be key contributors to continued growth across price points and geographies for Windows Phone,” said Parker.
Windows Phone 8.1 is scheduled to hit the market this spring, and should support all handsets that are currently running Windows Phone 8.

Sources: Microsoft [1], [2]

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