Microsoft's Offers Developers Early Look at Windows Phone 8.1 Update

Paul Lilly

Windows Phone 8.1 Preview is available for developers

Wondering if Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistant software will live up to the hype? You can find out by downloading the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview, which is now available for third-party developers . This isn't intended for the general public, though if you just can't shake that curiosity and want to be one of the first to try out the new software, you can apply the update without writing apps. Here's what you need to know.

Before you can download the update, you must be a registered developer or be running a "developer unlocked" phone. To become a registered developer, you need to fork over $19 and publish apps in the Windows Store, or register as a developer with App Studio.

If you're going the "developer unlocked" route, you'll need to download the developer tools to register and unlock your handset.

Keep in mind that you risk voiding your phone's warranty by fooling around with the preview update. You also need to be aware that the update only includes Microsoft's portion of the software -- mobile operator and OEM driver updates will be available when the official update for your phone is released.

Finally, bear in mind that there's no going back. Microsoft says you can't revert or return to a prior OS release after you've updated your phone to a preview update.

If none of that scares you away, you can download the preview update here .

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