Windows Phone 8.1.2—also known as Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 or Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2—is real, according to Microsoft’s online documentation. And it will include some new features when it ships with new phones later this year.
News of Windows Phone 8.1.2 was reported first by the good folks at Windows Central, and is based on some documentation from the Windows Phone Dev Center web site. This site still calls Windows Phone 8.1.1 as GDR2—a.k.a. “general development release 2,” which is an older style of update naming—but I will just refer to it as 8.1.2. Presumably this will be the final Windows Phone OS software update before the release of Windows 10.
Among the changes—each of which is aimed at wireless carriers, not end users—coming in this release are:
Video over LTE. This will be enabled or disabled at the wireless carrier’s discretion and will enable video conferencing capabilities over LTE data.
Restore Start tile layout. This feature will let a hardware maker or wireless carrier “append” their custom Start screen layout “to the bottom of the user’s backed up Start screen layout when the user restores their device from a backup.” There are also various tile layout accommodations for dual-SIM phones (which can have two Phone and Messaging tiles).
Support for more phone languages. Windows Phone 8.1.2 will include support for four new languages: Bangla (Bangladesh), Khmer, Kiswahili and Lao.
New policies. Windows Phone 8.1.2 will support new policies related to VPN, app download sizes over cellular data, the Task Switcher (which can apparently be disable now for some reason), the anti-theft mode, and more.
Don’t hold your breath waiting to see this update appear on existing phones, though given the feature set we now know about, I do think it’s a lock for new phones that will be announced as soon as Mobile World Congress in about two weeks.