Microsoft's camera-focused Lumia phone update rolls out in earnest

If you're a Lumia phone owner, you no longer have to get lucky (or install a preview release) just to get all of the latest Windows Phone features. Microsoft is about to start the wider rollout of Lumia Denim, a Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 upgrade that packs a lot of improvements to both imaging and Cortana voice commands. It's not saying exactly who's a candidate in this next wave, but many countries and devices will start seeing Denim later this month -- depending on how quickly the carriers finish testing, of course. Verizon already brought Denim to the US through the 822 and 928 back in December, but the broader deployment suggests that other American Lumias are due relatively soon.

As before, whether or not you wring much value out of the update depends on your phone. If you're rocking a newer handset like the Lumia 830, 930, 1520 or Icon, you'll get faster shooting, Rich Capture (high dynamic range, dynamic exposure and dynamic flash) and better image quality. Outside of the 830, these phones can also handle 4K video and hands-free Cortana commands. Everyone gets features like Start screen folders, a better web browser and Cortana refinements that include support for in-car speech. While it probably won't feel like you got a new phone, there's enough here that you'll probably want to load Denim as soon as it's available in your neck of the woods.