SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft has pushed out the latest build of the upcoming Windows 10 platform, as the firm drummed home its developer message of a unified ecosystem and showed new capabilities, such as the Continuum feature, coming to phones.
The new build of Windows 10 for PCs, known as Insider Preview Build 10074, includes some of the new features showcased at the Build developer conference, such as the return of the Aero Glass transparency feature much loved by Windows 7 users and new "learning and discovery" experiences intended to help people get more out of Windows 10.
Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems group, said at the Build event that the user interface and start menu tweaks in the latest build of Windows 10 are "pretty close to what we expect to ship", which is rumoured to be sometime at the end of July.
As well as the translucency effect of Aero Glass, the updates include the Jump Lists introduced in Windows 7 and the new discovery features Microsoft is adding.
Like the new tab page in Microsoft's newly renamed Edge browser, this is powered by Cortana, which gathers information on what the user is doing and can suggest new applications they may wish to investigate from the Windows Store, or features in Windows itself that they have not so far used.
"The system can give smart suggestions for apps suitable for me, based on what apps I've been using, and what kind of apps I've downloaded and used recently," said Belfiore. "Think of it as the user's lifecycle for discovery and reuse."
Cortana's capabilities are also being extended so that it can be instructed using natural language to perform operations inside apps, such as telling it to send an instant message to a colleague to say you will be late for a meeting.
Belfiore also showed how Microsoft will support the Continuum capability on phones as well as PCs and tablets. The feature is intended to allow the user interface to adapt dynamically on devices such as hybrid tablets which may be used with or without a keyboard dock.
Belfiore showed how a smartphone connected to a monitor and operating with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse could deliver a more desktop-like experience.
"With PowerPoint, I can insert pictures into slides using the keyboard and mouse, and Excel is here running on a phone but looking just how it would on the PC, with the same keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl-V to paste, for example," he said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's executive vice president for Windows, Terry Myerson, said that Microsoft had set itself the ambitious goal of seeing a billion devices running windows 10 within two to three years.
Myerson said that Windows 10 will have a Windows Store for businesses, which will enable IT administrators to highlight approved apps for employees, and distribute selected apps from the Windows Store as well as internal line-of-business apps.
Windows Store will also support business payment methods like purchase orders, as well as carrier billing, enabling users to pay for app purchases through their mobile bill.
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