Although Microsoft has announced a spring release date for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 updates, there has been some speculation that the exact date will be April 8, the day that support for XP ends – “there will be no more security updates or technical support for the Windows XP operating system [from this date]” a Windows spokesperson has said.

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Microsoft Vice President, Joe Belfiore, took to the stage at the company’s sideline event during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (held in February) to make the announcement, as well as to confirm several other details. He said that one of the main aims of the update was to “make things better” for users without touchscreen phones.

Belfiore said that Windows Phone 8.1 would be compatible with all devices currently running Windows Phone 8, allaying fears that users would have to also update their handsets to benefit. He also said that the update will have support for Snapdragon 200, 400 and 400 LTE chipsets, which may mean that we see more entry- and mid-level handsets on the market.

Windows 8.1 logoOther changes will include the ability to store apps on the microSD card (which will be very beneficial to users with limited on-board storage), support for on-screen or ‘soft’ buttons, support for dual-SIM (which will improve the Windows Phone’s standing in markets like India), and the addition of search, power and settings buttons to the Start page.

The software giant have also confirmed that India’s Karbonn and Xolo will be future Windows Phone hardware partners alongside Foxconn, HTC, Huawei, JSR, Lenovo, LG, Longcheer, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE. It is believed that these partnerships will go a long way to cementing the Windows Phone as a viable competitor in the smartphone market.

Whilst the exact release date has yet to be confirmed, many will be looking to April 8 (also known as Microsoft’s “Patch Tuesday”) for access to the 8.1 update.