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Microsoft Improves Windows 10's User Interface in Latest Preview Release

Microsoft issued the next build of its Windows 10 preview today.

Build 10074 of the Windows 10 preview is coming to Microsoft's Windows Insider Program participants via the Windows Update automatic download process. Both "fast-ring" and "slow-ring" testers are getting this build, which features user interface improvements, plus a few bug fixes. Microsoft also is issuing ISOs of this build for testers who want clean installs of the OS, the company announced on Wednesday.

Microsoft is now referring to its Windows 10 Technical Previews as "Insider Previews." That change was made to honor Windows Insider participants.

While Joe Belfiore, Microsoft corporate vice president for PC, tablet and phone, showed off a lot of Windows 10 features at Microsoft's Build event in San Francisco today, those features aren't all available in this release. Microsoft conceives of Windows 10 as being a service. It rolls out new features when they are ready, so that's the new distinction.

However, the capability to discover apps through an interface in the Start Menu, something that was demonstrated by Belfiore, apparently made this release. The Start Menu has a section that suggests apps based on what people use. It uses Bing/Cortana in the background to come up with the recommendations.

This latest Windows 10 preview release brings back the Aero Glass transparent look. However, some testers will see a new "blur" effect that looks like frosted glass. Microsoft is sending out both interfaces to testers to see which one gets favored more.

Some things got fixed in this release. This build now lets testers launch their Win32 desktop apps from the Start Menu. Apps bought through the Windows Store for Windows 8.1 will now show up as purchased apps in the Windows Store beta version on Windows 10. An app playing audio now will continue to play when minimized. It's also now possible to download music using the Xbox Music and Music preview apps.

This build comes with problems, too. The People app "continues to crash." Developer Mode can't be used to test apps. Some games won't play in the full-screen mode.

Microsoft indicated today that its Project Spartan browser for Windows 10 will be called "Edge." The new browser, which jettisons a lot of legacy code, has been available for testing since late March.

Some things mentioned by Belfiore at Build apparently aren't in this preview. Belfiore had mentioned these coming improvements:

  • The return of "jump lists" with File Explorer and other apps
  • A lock-screen personalization feature called "Windows Spotlight" that learns what the user likes in terms of displayed images

Belfiore had also talked about an improved "Continuum" feature for Windows Phones running Windows 10. This feature lets users connect their smartphones to a PC screen. Windows 10 then displays the phone apps like desktop apps. The app needs to be a so-called Windows Universal app for this scheme to work, apparently. Also, there are some unspecified hardware requirements to get this feature to work.

For those interested in Windows 10 for Windows Phone devices, Microsoft posted a detailed description today of its design principles in this blog post.

Microsoft didn't update the public about its release plans today, although it has indicated that Windows 10 will get released sometime this summer. Microsoft is ambitiously claiming that Windows 10, when released, will land on one billion devices in a couple of years. For some Windows users, that number will be helped along because Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for them, but enterprise users are excepted.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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