Windows Phone 8.1 update brings dual-SIM, Facebook Messenger to the party

Windows Phone 8.1 brings dual-SIM, Facebook Messenger to the party
Microsoft has Android in its sights

Microsoft is releasing an update to Windows Phone later this year, which should allow phone makers to create cheaper phones as it ups its fight against Android.

Although Microsoft is being cagey about giving it an official name, we're expecting the software to be known as Windows Phone 8.1 and it should be released at some point this spring.

The company is lessening its vice-like control over Windows Phone hardware by allowing the use of lower-end Qualcomm processors, and letting manufacturers do away with physical buttons if they want to.

Until now, Microsoft had demanded three standard keys on the front of the handset, plus a camera shutter button too.

Remote control

After the update, phones will also be able to store apps on the SD card for the first time, and manufacturers can make dual-SIM Windows Phones too. Microsoft is even letting phone makers reuse their Android designs for Windows Phone, which is a pretty big move for the control-freaks over in Redmond.

There'll also be some new faces in the Windows Phone game - Lenovo and Foxconn will be making devices, while LG is also returning to the WP fold.

These updates add up to cheaper phones as Microsoft goes after emerging markets like India where many people are yet to buy their first smartphone.

Finally, a treat for existing Windows Phone users: Facebook Messenger will be hitting the OS in a matter of weeks.

The Windows Phone 8.1 update is 'technically' compatible with existing Windows Phone 8 devices, but it sounds as though carriers will have the final say in whether you get it or not. Stay tuned.

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.