Microsoft has pushed out a new build of its Windows 10 Technical Preview showing a number of tweaks and updates to the user experience as the software giant tunes up the platform ready for its official release this summer.
With Microsoft widely expected to push the button on Windows 10 before the end of July, the software giant is continuing to refine the platform, paying particular attention to the user experience as the date draws closer.
The latest Build 10122 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview thus includes improvements to the Start menu and the Continuum feature, updates to the Edge browser and changes to the way Windows 10 handles default apps, plus a number of fixes for known issues.
"With this build we continue to move Windows 10 closer to our public release date this summer, and you'll see changes large and small which were based on the input and feedback of Windows Insiders," said Gabe Aul, Microsoft's director of programme management for the Windows Fundamentals team, announcing the new build on the Microsoft blog.
"It's been wonderful for us to see the energy and passion of the millions of people who signed up to get Insider Preview builds, send us their feedback, and connect with us in the Windows Insider Programme forum and on Twitter."
The changes testers are most likely to notice are to the Start menu and Continuum, with the visual layout of the Start menu changed slightly by moving File Explorer and Settings to the bottom left, while the option to toggle between Start menu and Start screen has been moved to the new Start settings page under Personalisation settings.
"We did this because on a vast set of devices like desktops, laptops or All-in-Ones, we expect users will pick the appropriate size (or just go with the default) for Start and stick with that - which makes having this button being present all the time unnecessary," Aul explained.
Meanwhile, the Continuum feature that adapts the user interface based on whether the device is being used as a slate-mode tablet or more like a traditional PC has had a subtle update: when in tablet mode, the left-hand pane of the Start menu is now collapsed and can be brought back out by clicking an icon at the top left. Start also now has larger tiles to better use the available space, similar to what was seen in Windows 8.1.
With this build, Microsoft has also changed the way default apps are handled. In Windows 8.1, traditional Win32 desktop-style applications could invoke a prompt asking you to change your defaults, but Windows Store apps could not do this. Now, a notification banner has been added that appears after apps are installed which users can click on to change their defaults.
Microsoft Edge, the newly renamed Project Spartan browser, also now includes a revamped New Tab Page that shows top sites, featured apps and content from MSN when the user opens a new tab. This content can be customised, and Aul said that Microsoft is currently testing several different versions of the New Tab Page to garner feedback about how users interact with Microsoft Edge.
This build also includes enhancements to the Chakra engine in Microsoft Edge that mean that it now leads all 64-bit browsers in key benchmarks such as Google's Octane 2.0, according to Aul.
The latest build, which was pushed out to testers on the Windows Insider programme who have opted to be on the "fast ring", also includes various bug fixes, but Microsoft warned that users running it with an AMD GPU may run into issues with Microsoft Edge.
However, the firm said that it is now looking to stabilise the code for Windows 10 as the release date draws nearer.
"Other than that issue I think you'll see that this build is a bit more stable and polished than the last one, which is to be expected as we begin to stabilise for the public release this summer," Aul said.
"From here on out you'll see fewer big feature changes from build to build, and more tuning, tweaking, stabilizing, and polishing. The Insider Previews continue to be aimed at very technical people who want to play with pre-released code, but I think you'll feel more and more comfortable using this build and future builds on your day to day systems," he added.
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