Verizon Lumia Icon phone finally gets latest version of Win Phone OS

Microsoft's flagship Lumia Icon Windows Phone on Verizon is getting long-awaited Win Phone updates, a year after its debut. That means features like the Cortana digital personal assistant.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
2 min read

Nokia Lumia Icon
Verizon customers who use the Lumia Icon are finally getting the latest version of the Windows Phone OS -- that means access to Microsoft's Cortana digital personal assistant; a notification center; and a selection of new business-focused features. Josh Miller/CNET

A year after launching the flagship Lumia Icon Windows Phone, Verizon is finally enabling users to run the latest version of the Windows Phone operating system.

On February 11, Verizon is on tap to begin pushing the Denim update, which includes the Windows Phone 8.1.1 operating system and related firmware, over the air to users on the Verizon network. Users who don't want to wait these last few hours can manually update their Icons to Denim using the Software Recovery Tool, as @Spacey02 noted via Twitter. For instructions (and cautions) about doing this, see this post on Thurrott.com.

Microsoft released to phone manufacturers the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system almost a year ago. Since that time, the company has shipped a number of new handsets running Windows Phone 8.1, as have its various partners. Verizon skipped the Lumia Cyan update last summer, so with the Denim update, users of Verizon's Lumia Icon phone are jumping straight from Win Phone 8.0 to version 8.1.1 of the OS and getting the features of 8.1 for the first time.

Windows Phone 8.1 includes support for Microsoft's Cortana digital personal assistant; a notification center; and a variety of new enterprise-focused features.

Windows Central reported last night that Verizon had posted a five-page PDF to its site detailing the changes coming to the Icon (also known as the Lumia 929) with the Denim update.

Microsoft officials told Icon users late last year that they should expect Denim to arrive in "early 2015." Microsoft, phone manufacturers, and carriers began pushing the Denim firmware to users at the end of 2014.

Denim includes a number of imaging/camera features, including camera quality and speed improvements; a new "Moment Capture" feature for 4K video recording on some of the higher-end Lumia phones; and support for new imaging algorithms, providing for crisper photos in daylight or low light. These imaging/camera enhancements are specifically for Lumia 830, Lumia 930, Lumia Icon and Lumia 1520 models.

Denim also adds, as promised, live folders, SMS merging and voice activation for Cortana.

Nokia launched the Lumia Icon exclusively on Verizon in February 2014. The launch gave those of us Windows Phone users on Verizon hope that Microsoft/Nokia and Verizon had begun smoothing out their rocky relationships. But since that time, unfortunately, it doesn't seem like much has really changed.

The news of Verizon's launch of Denim comes just ahead of Microsoft making available the first preview test-build of its Windows 10 mobile operating system. Denim is not a prerequisite for Windows 10 mobile, Microsoft officials have said.

For other Windows Phone users still awaiting OS and firmware updates, here's Microsoft's schedule as to when to expect Lumia models on different networks around the world to get those bits. Denim won't be available on non-Lumia phones, but some of the feature improvements in that update will be.

This story originally posted as "Verizon finally updating Icon to Windows Phone 8.1" on ZDNet.