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Microsoft bypasses carriers to deliver early Windows Phone updates

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Windows Phone Updates
Windows Phone Updates

Microsoft may have only just announced Windows Phone 8 Update 3, but the company plans to start delivering it to developers later today. After over a year in the making, Microsoft is finally launching its Windows Phone Preview for developers. The program will provide registered developers with early access to Windows Phone 8 updates, bypassing the complex and lengthy carrier testing process. Microsoft is specifically targeting developers with this program, but for $19 a year any Windows Phone 8 user can sign up and get early access to updates. Even registered Windows Phone App Studio developers will be able to get early access.

Windows Phone 8 users that are registered developers or have a developer-unlocked device will be able to download a Windows Phone Preview for Developers app that enables the early access to updates. There are no restrictions on phone type, only that existing Windows Phone 8 handsets have General Distribution Release 2 (GDR2) installed in order to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 Update 3. After the special app is installed, phones will then update through the normal software update process. While this is the quickest way to access updates, and is similar to how Apple provides early access to iOS developers, Microsoft warns it may void any warranty with a mobile operator or device manufacturer.

You may have to trade your warranty for early updates

If a Windows Phone user opts to install the pre-release updates then they'll have to wait until the update is released publicly to be in a "released state" as there's no way to restore back to an older version of Windows Phone 8. The pre-release updates only contain Microsoft's portion of the update, and the software maker isn't rolling out any firmware or driver changes alongside its own OS update. Today's update will bring 1080p display support for unreleased devices, rotation lock, a new Driving Mode, and much more.

Microsoft isn't detailing how it plans to handle future updates through the Windows Phone Preview program, but it's possible the company may take an Apple approach and place developers under NDA to provide early access to upcoming updates. Today's announcement is focused on allowing developers to test apps on real devices ahead of the OS update roll out over the coming weeks. It also provides Microsoft with a way to address the growing frustration over carrier delayed Windows Phone updates. Enthusiasts now have a way to update their handsets before AT&T and others have finished testing the software. It's a win win for both developers and Windows Phone users.

Read more: Windows Phone 8 'Update 3' adds top requested features ahead of 1080p devices