Along with Windows Phone 8 Update 3, Microsoft today also launched a new program called Windows Phone Preview for Developers. As its name implies, the move will give Windows Phone developers access to prerelease builds of Windows Phone updates on their developer phones before operating system updates become generally available to consumers. You can download the app now directly from the Windows Phone Store.

This means developers can use the extra time to exercise their code on the update and verify that their app works as expected. If they find issues, they can fix their app and get an update into the Windows Phone Store before customers get the latest OS update.

In short, Microsoft is responding to requests from Windows Phone developers who want better ways to test their apps. With Windows Phone 8 Update 2 (8.0.10322), Microsoft started making optional emulator packages available, and with Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (8.0.10512), it is also making the build available to developer phones via an Over-the-Air (OTA) update.

There are a few important notes to keep in mind about the program:

  • The update only includes the Microsoft portion of the update, meaning the firmware and drivers specific to developer devices will come down with the official update.
  • Build 8.0.10322.71 with the corresponding device drivers is required to install this update.
  • When you opt in and apply a prerelease update, you can only move forward with updates. When the update is publicly released for your device, you will once again be in a ‘released state.’ There is no path back to a prior release/update.
  • After you install a preview update, you may void any warranty from your MO and OEM.
  • In the unlikely event you run into an issue after you apply the prerelease update, you can visit the preview program’s support forum.

Unfortunately, Microsoft says it doesn’t yet have the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 emulator images available for download. The company expects to have them available for download in the next three weeks; we’ll let you know when they’re available.

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