Windows 8.1 update 2 release might be rumored for next week, but users holding onto Windows Phone 8.1 devices are getting their own software patch starting today.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 is still slated for an official release in the coming months, but in the meantime anyone can nab the developer preview for free through Microsoft's App Studio program. You don't have to be a developer or make Windows Phone apps to take part in the program - though, you do need to register and agree to certain terms.

The update brings a host of new features, including a Live Folder feature to hold multiple Live Tiles in the same location.

Cortana called

Another key improvement in the update is that voice-controlled Cortana is finally making it over to other countries, including the UK and China, as a beta. Microsoft's virtual assistant will also be available as an opt-in alpha to users in Australia, Canada and India.

Meanwhile, stateside Windows Phone 8.1 users will be able to preview Cortana's new acting skill by asking her to do celebrities impersonations.

Small tweaks

The Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 brings a host of other improvements such as the ability to delete or forward multiple selected SMS messages at a time.

Also on the docket are user-customizable snooze alarm settings and a better performing Xbox Music application with a flashier Live Tile. Enhanced security will improve the new Apps Corner for businesses, and the Store Live Tile will have the added functionality of displaying updates for the latest apps.

  • Here's our look at one of the latest Windows Phone 8.1 devices, the Nokia Lumia 930

Via The Verge