Today’s announcements relating to the Windows Phone platform just might end up as the point where the fledgling mobile operating system turned a corner.

There were some indications over the weekend from Paul Thurrott on Twitter that a big Windows Phone announcement was in the works and those indicators proved to be very true.

First thing this morning the news started to spread very quickly as blog posts went live out of Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.

Announcing our third Windows Phone 8 update—plus a new developer preview program (Windows Phone Blog) –  This post from Darren Laybourn the Corporate Vice President for Windows Phone summarizes the features that GDR3 brings to Windows Phone.

  • Support for higher resolution screens at 1080p and with 5 to 6 inch screens
  • Support for more powerful processors such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core
  • Driving Mode which minimizes notifications on the phone when you are driving
  • New accessibility features in a suite of apps that include a screen reader and improved notifications for alarms, calendar events and low battery warnings
  • Ringtones can be used in more situations
  • Rotation Lock
  • Improved storage management
  • Apps can now be closed instead of just pushed into the background
  • Wi-Fi access during phone setup
  • Improved Bluetooth

Introducing Windows Phone Preview for Developers (Windows Phone Developer Blog) – In this post Cliff Simpkins provides all the details for the long awaited early adopter program for Windows Phone developers to get nearly immediate access to updates for the Windows Phone platform.  He states that the idea behind providing these updates to developers as they are available is to assist in testing the app in the new operating system environment. There are some minimum requirements to gain access to the Windows Phone Preview for Developers so this is not a free for all to access the early updates. According to the Windows Phone Preview for Developers page you must meet one of these three requirements:

Of course any early access program like this also has some warnings attached and there are three with this one according to the Windows Phone Preview for Developers page:

  • Installing an update like this may void any warranty from your mobile operator and OEM.
  • A preview update only includes the Microsoft portion of the update; mobile operator and OEM driver updates will be available when the official update for your phone is available.
  • You cannot revert or return to a prior operating system release version after you have updated your phone to a preview update. We will move you forward to a “released state,” but we cannot take you back to a prior “released state.”

As far as reverting back to the prior OS I suspect it would still be possible to use the available Nokia Software Updater to flash your device back to the most recent ROM if it was necessary.

If you meet all of those above steps then you just need to download the Preview for Developers app from the Windows Phone store. This app is very simple and has one single checkbox that enables your handset for access to the early updates. You just uncheck the box if you no longer wish to participate in the program.