Windows Phone 8.1 review: Microsoft's mobile OS finally feels whole
14 April 2014
Conclusion: Windows Phone 8.1 is the OS we've been waiting for years to see, bringing a notification center, personal assistant and other great touches.
Pros: Action Center is well-designed, desperately needed, Cortana voice assistant works well considering it's still in beta, Swipe keyboard is easy to use, More modern hardware support, More personalization options
Cons: Large phones can't take full advantage of the screen space, Google support still lagging
Improved Windows still torn between tablet future and PC past
17 October 2013
Summary: If you're a dedicated Windows 8 hater, the update to Windows 8.1 isn't going to change your mind. For everyone else, this collection of tweaks, fixes, and new features is useful, but everything here should have shipped in the original version last year.
Pros: Windows 8.1 adds many useful tweaks and fixes, including a new version of the missing Start button, better searching, the ability to boot directly to the desktop, and a much-improved app store. Plus, it's free for current Windows 8 users.
Cons: The split between the touch-friendly tiles and throwback desktop mode is still awkward, and the OS is hard to use without a touch screen. While welcome, the new Start button doesn't behave like the classic version, and the Windows app store still lacks serious software, especially for gamers.
Conclusion: With its new digital assistant, Cortana, Action Center, and slick home screen options, Windows Phone is ready to challenge the bigger names in mobile operating systems.
Pros: Cortana digital assistant combines Siri's personality with Google Now's intelligence. Appealing home-screen customization. Action Center notifications. "Senses" help you conserve data and battery life. Excellent Swype-style shaped-text input. Quiet hours.
Cons: Weak mail and browser interfaces. App selection still trails the competition. Keyboard doesn't have voice entry.
Summary: Windows 8.1 brings welcome user interface tweaks to Microsoft's touch-centric platform, plus a heap of innovative new features and capabilities. However, we fear that the Metro-style user interface will still be the stumbling block for many users, especially those using existing Windows applications.
Pros: More customisable user interface, new wireless support, better mobility and BYOD features for business
Cons: Metro-style user interface still jars, little reason to upgrade for Windows 7 users