On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled the upcoming changes to Windows 10. They said that a new build, including many of the announced features (but not everything) would be available within a week. Well, a mere two days later the build is now available for download. In order to gain access to the preview builds, you have to join the Windows Insider program, which has no cost. In the one day after the event, Gabriel Aul tweeted that 173,624 people had joined the program, which had over 1.7 million members just the day before.

For those already on the Technical Preview, both the Windows 10 Fast and Slow rings have access to this new build, numbered 9926. Simply go to Settings, Update and Recovery, and choose the Preview Build tab to force a check. If you have not tried it out, but want to, of course first backup your PC before starting, and then head over to http://insider.windows.com/ to get access to the automated install, or the ISO files. Of note to people upgrading either from Windows 7, 8, or previous builds of 10, this is an in-place upgrade which should keep your software and settings intact, but does require a re-provisioning of your account. As a final warning, this is pre-release software, so if you are unsure whether you should be running it, the easy answer is that you likely should skip it.

Some of the new features coming in this build are fairly significant, with the first obvious one being an updated Start Menu. It can now be expanded to a full screen experience, just like any app. It also has a scrollable list of live tiles, which can be customized as you prefer.

Cortana is coming to the desktop in this build as well, although it is limited to the USA and English at the moment.

Continuum is now available, which is the automated method of switching a device to touch mode and back, and it can be accessed through the updated Action Center as well, which now includes toggles for various modes. The settings app is also new, and blends the Windows 8 style settings with the traditional control panel.

There is now a switch in the action center to make it easier to connect to Bluetooth and Miracast devices, to project audio or video wirelessly.

On the app side, there is a new Windows Store beta, with a much cleaner look and feel, as well as the new Photos map which was demoed on Wednesday. Maps is also updated to the demonstrated build, and the much revamped Xbox app is also available.

There is a lot of other changes as well, such as the ability to choose which folder is the default when opening File Explorer, there have been Snap Assist changes, more languages are supported, and even Windows Updates can be scheduled to install at specific times with a radio button.

If you do upgrade to this build, be sure to check Windows Update as well. There are a couple of patches which fix known issues.

I am installing right now, and we will go over more of the changes in a future post.

Source: Windows Blog

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  • TWolfe - Saturday, January 24, 2015 - link

    Been playing with Cortana for a bit now and it seems to launch everything in IE. Can get it to launch any programs; instead it just seems to bing everything. My wife was trying to launch her Facebook page and it just opens IE and bings it. Has potential but a ways to go if it is to be a personal assistant. Reply
  • Cygni - Saturday, January 24, 2015 - link

    more fun things:

    laughably bad consistency of default icons/UI elements.

    love the huge amount of wasted space when you delete tiles out of the start menu

    the app search for some reason floats on top of the start menu instead of being integrated in it, and its slow as hell

    the 'all apps' link is tiny with an arrow pointing at nothing, clicking on it expands a menu the other direction

    desperately wants you to sign into a microsoft account to do anything at any time for any reason

    cortana is beyond useless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX8NOOmEKA4
    Reply
  • crimsondoor - Sunday, January 25, 2015 - link

    >>laughably bad consistency of default icons/UI elements.
    Yeah I agree. Why is the Win95 era hard disk space pie chart still there? And why the ugly new icons?? Why is control panel still there?

    >>love the huge amount of wasted space when you delete tiles out of the start menu
    This is a known bug. It will be resizable.

    >>the app search for some reason floats on top of the start menu instead of being integrated in it, and its slow as hell
    Known bug.

    >>desperately wants you to sign into a microsoft account to do anything at any time for any reason
    I never signed in actually. Signing in is a bonus, but you don't miss out anything important even if you don't. (unlike Android)

    >>cortana is beyond useless
    This is a beta. Also the first build with Cortana built in.
    Reply
  • Flunk - Sunday, January 25, 2015 - link

    I've been playing around with the build for a while and I've found you CAN make the search take up less space. Right click the taskbar, mouse over search and set it to "disabled" or "Show search button". "disabled" doesn't disable search, just the extra button.

    Also, I don't know what you were searching for to get the command prompt but if I type in "cmd" (for cmd.exe) or "com" it brings up "Command Prompt" as the first option. I do agree about the file manager icons, the yellow/orange is just too bright.
    Reply
  • 3ricss - Monday, January 26, 2015 - link

    >>but if I type in "cmd" (for cmd.exe) or "com" it brings up "Command Prompt" as the first option.

    sweet didn't know that. thanks!
    Reply
  • 3ricss - Monday, January 26, 2015 - link

    Yeah, launching cmd from cortana would be nice.

    I actually like the new explorer icons...hoping for a flat trash can too.

    It's nice that you can disable cortana on the taskbar. Would be even nicer if this was sizable.

    I don't know... I'm sort of enjoying this version of windows. Definitely an improvement over Win8.1 and perhaps Win7 too.
    Reply
  • HardwareDufus - Sunday, February 1, 2015 - link

    I've had Win10 TechPrev installed frrom the beginning. This latest update is interesting. There appears to be 3 distinctly different styles to the icons.
    1. The Desktop Icons have changed. It's a style vaguely reminiscent of the Windows2000 Icons.
    2. The File Manager Icons have changed.... Yeah... They are ugly.... They've got to go. Seriously.
    3. The Settings Icons have changed... Single Color Line Drawings... I actually like these... Reminiscent of what's on Windows Phone. This should be the standard all the way around.

    It might be that they are testing out different styles. Regardless... Settings is the Winner here...
    Reply
  • Wardrop - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    Tell me, has Microsoft made it any easier since Windows 7 to switch audio devices? In Windows 7, this is all done through undocumented COM API's, so it's virtually impossible (unless you have A LOT of time and technical knowledge) to programmatically switch audio devices, which is really inconvenient when using Windows as a HTPC. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    Odd, I've always been able to switch audio devices using the built in UI in Windows 7. Reply
  • HunterKlynn - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    He specified programmatically, as in not using the UI. Reply

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