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Microsoft completes Windows Phone 8.1 update for new Lumia phones

The update code for Microsoft's mobile OS is being tested for new Lumia phones, says Windows Phone leader Joe Belfiore.

Twitter/screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Microsoft has reached a milestone with its mobile operating system Windows Phone 8.1.

In a tweet posted early Wednesday, Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president and manager for Windows Phone Program Management, revealed that Microsoft has finished the code for the Windows Phone 8.1 update for new Lumia phones that have recently shipped.

"WP8.1 sw is finished for the Lumia phones that started shipping a couple weeks ago.. and we're testing the update code now," Belfiore said. "Fixes ongoing."

Interpreting Belfiore's tweet further, Dave Dustin, a Microsoft community group leader (who is not a Microsoft employee), said the latest news means the gold master of Windows Phone 8.1 is signed off and that over-the-air updates will start later this month. If that information is true, then owners of new Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8 could see the 8.1 update arrive before June ends.

Windows Phone has grown in popularity and market share but still lags a distant third smartphone operating system in a market dominated by Apple and Android. Microsoft is counting on several of the new features in Windows Phone 8.1 to stir up greater interest among consumers. Demoed by Belfiore at Microsoft's Build conference in April, the 8.1 update will add a long-awaited voice assistant dubbed Cortana, an "Action Center" through which users can view notifications and turn on various network settings, and a more customizable lock screen.

Lumia smartphones are expected to jump on to Windows Phone 8.1 quicker than other Windows Phone-powered smartphones because of the line's new, cozier relationship within Microsoft. In late April, the software titan closed its acquisition of Nokia's devices and services business, which makes Lumia devices.

Belfiore also tweeted about the lock screen customization feature today, saying that it will launch as a beta probably in a couple of weeks but only for phones with at least 1 gigabyte of memory. Phones with only 512 megabytes of RAM aren't out of the running but won't be supported just yet.

"Why not 512? To make lock fast/stay in memory," Belfiore said. "512mb for lock app will probably be awhile."

Updates to the Facebook and Skype apps are also coming, according to Belfiore, while universal apps that developers can design for both Windows and Windows Phone aren't ready just yet.

(Via Windows Phone Central)