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Why You Should Upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1

sponsored-by-microsoftUpgrade to Windows Phone 8.1

Your very own personal assistant would require a salary near $31,000 on average. Sure, that’s more than what most would be willing to pay for access to an organized life, but there’s an appealing alternative. With Windows Phone 8.1 comes Cortana, a virtual personal assistant designed not only to tap seamlessly into the apps you already use to manage your life, but also to provide a number of services itself. Her versatility means she’s even available on the most affordable Lumia phones, which are even free on some contracts.

Cortana is an interactive personal assistant powered by Bing. Like any good personal assistant, Cortana studies your behavior, learning from your decisions and preferences to anticipate your needs. She tracks all of this in a digital notebook, which begins with a few simple inquiries into your preferences. For example, she’ll make notes on whether you prefer to eat in or dine out. And if you love tacos, she’ll let you know next time you ask about lunch that there’s a great taco truck just around the corner.

Cortana is respectful of your privacy, too. You can see the information she keeps in her notebook, and decide if you want her to track your next flight when Expedia emails you the itinerary, or change who is in your “inner circle”. You get to decide which aspects of your life Cortana plays a role in, so that she’s there when you need her, and silent-but-available when you don’t. Cortana is the only personal digital assistant who can set reminders by people as well as location or time, so that you remember to talk to your boss about that raise the next time she calls, emails or texts you about your workload. Cortana knows that you usually leave for the office around 8:30am and she proactively serves up the traffic for your commute.

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Microsoft Office, free cloud storage, and more

Windows Phone 8.1 comes with more than just Cortana, though. Windows Phones also include OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage system for productivity on the go. Included with the phones are 15 GB of free cloud storage — three times as much free storage as offered by Apple with an iPhone. OneDrive can be used to seamlessly backup photos and documents for viewing and downloading anywhere. Windows Phones also boast full Microsoft Office suite, including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, as well as other Microsoft programs like Bing, Skype, and OneNote. When paired with OneDrive, documents created on a Windows Phone can be edited on any other device that also runs OneDrive. Pick up right where you left off from phone to tablet to PC and back again.

With the latest and most popular apps, such as Instagram, Uber, and FitBit, Windows Phone 8.1 is the kind of diverse, robust ecosystem we love and expect in our smartphones. With Windows Phone 8.1, developers can incorporate Cortana and OneDrive into their apps using APIs offered by Microsoft. That kind of smart integration means that Cortana can launch an app for you, just by saying “Facebook, what’s up with Adam Smith?”

For the gamers, Xbox SmartGlass lets you control your Xbox directly from your phone. Games and videos can be played, paused, and discovered all without a controller.With Xbox SmartGlass, your device can be used as a second-screen for immersive gaming. Your phone could display a map of you and your opponents, or a tool for quickly customizing and tweaking your character.

Polish … with flair

Even the tiny details are upgraded. So that, for example, the Live Tiles on the start screen, keep you up to date with the things that matter most to you– like timeline posts, status updates, latest scores and much more – making your start screen a reflection of you. Windows Phone 8.1 also has the fastest integrated keyboard on the market, with shape writing built right in, so you can text or swipe as you choose. Action Center provides one swipe access to email and texts notifications, and social media updates. You can also access four personalized quick actions, so you can easily switch on and off Wi-Fi, Airplane mode, and more. For an exhaustive list of everything new on Windows Phone 8.1, check out this overview.

Today, many Windows Phone 8.0-compatible phone can receive 8.1 via an over-the-air update. For more info on whether Windows Phone 8.1 is available for your phone right now, find out here. And from here on out, all new Windows Phones will ship with 8.1, including Microsoft’s new $99 offerings, Lumia 630 and Lumia 635, as well as the versatile Lumia 530 and the flagship Lumia 830.