Finally. We've admired Windows Phone for years now, but the 8.1 update marks the first time that the platform actually feels... complete. With version 8.1, you can now enjoy a functional personal assistant, robust notification center, solid hardware support and a great keyboard, all of which were huge pain points that needed to be addressed a long time ago.
Of course, Microsoft still has plenty of challenges ahead. After all, it's still unclear what kind of changes will happen to Windows Phone after the Nokia acquisition is finalized, and we still haven't seen a ton of manufacturers announce new hardware yet, despite Microsoft's claim that there's renewed interest in the platform. The OS has struggled to grow since its conception and is just now starting to hit double digits in market share (in certain regions, anyway). Our hope is that this update ushers in a change in momentum for Microsoft. With new leadership, a better product and the company's "One Microsoft" vision, Windows Phone 8.1 could easily be the boost the company so needs right now.
How It Stacks Up
OS X El Capitan
ARM-powered Windows 10 laptops will arrive this holiday
Hopefully Microsoft has learned its lesson from Windows RT.
Windows 10's biannual update schedule starts in September
Expect new feature releases every spring and fall moving forward.