We get it. You want to download Windows Phone 8.1 as soon as possible just to see if Cortana is really as cool on a mobile device as she is in the Halo series. Or, perhaps it's the new Action Center and swipe keyboard that strike your fancy. Whatever reason you have for wanting to play with the latest version of Windows Phone ASAP, now's your chance. Microsoft has just announced that a developer preview of the new update is finally available for download, but as the name of the build implies, this is meant for third-party developers so they can get a good head start in prepping their apps ahead of widespread release. That said, you can still get in on the action, even if you've never written a line of code in your life -- there's just a few risks involved.
First of all, according to Microsoft's site, you'll need to register as a developer with App Studio for free. Technically, this tool allows you to create apps that you can run on your own Windows Phone (if you want to publish them to the Store, that'll cost you $20), but it's also a workaround that enables you to install the latest and greatest previews on your phone at your leisure. Heck, you'll still be able to upgrade to the final build as soon as it's available on whichever device you have -- you just can't revert back to the previous version.
There's a few other things you must know before you start clicking buttons. Most importantly, performing the early upgrade will likely void your warranty in the process, so keep that in mind; additionally, these builds only consist of the Microsoft-sanctioned part of the update -- in other words, any manufacturer or carrier customizations (and drivers) will only be available when that phone's official release comes out. If the privilege of playing with new firmware before everyone else is too much of an opportunity for you to pass up, head here to get started.