Windows Phone 8.1 Update preview to roll out next week, bringing Cortana to UK devs

Those of you who have been waiting for Cortana, listen up, because she is all set to make her debut in the UK, when Microsoft pushes out Windows Phone 8.1 Update.

A developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 Update will be made available at the beginning of next week, carrying a number of additional features including Redmond's virtual assistant.

First off, though, let's talk about Cortana – the Siri rival is coming to both the UK and China in beta form, tailored for both markets, and also India, Australia and Canada in alpha.

In this country, Cortana will come with a British accent and localised spelling along with local data on sports teams, commuter data, and the skinny on the London Stock Exchange. Apparently her personality has "also been tweaked to be more locally relevant" (perhaps with added irony and/or sarcasm compared to the American version?).

The interface has seen some tweaks, naturally enough, with the addition of Live Folders for the Start screen. These allow you to organise app tiles into folders, and the live tiles of the apps are visible on the folder tile so you won't miss updates because they've been tucked away in a folder.

Listen in: Can Cortana help WIndows Phone stave off iPhone 6 competition?

A new Windows Phone Store live tile also makes up to date info available on the latest apps which have been introduced, refreshing itself every six hours to make you aware of what's new on the app store.

Another new feature called Apps Corner is a sandbox mode that can be used to restrict which apps can be run, and Microsoft says it could help businesses that need a basic solution as opposed to full mobile device management.

Other tweaks include an updated Xbox Music app, SMS merge and forwarding, and new security measures such as built-in VPN functionality for when you're hooking up to a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

This update should be rolling out to those running Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers at the start of next week, as we've mentioned, and will subsequently be made available to the public in the "coming months" (hopefully it won't be too much of a wait for the UK general release).