UPDATE: Microsoft has responded, sort of, to criticism that it is not moving quickly enough to release new Windows 10 preview builds. Honestly, this post doesn’t say much, nor does it express the timing for a second build this calendar year. –Paul
In January, Microsoft promised that it would deliver Windows 10 preview builds in 2015 at a faster clip than they did late last year. But as we close in on the two month mark since the last preview build for PCs—and no, that very limited preview for phones does not count—the software giant’s most ardent fans are getting a bit restless. Fortunately, a steady series of leaks has provided us with the information Microsoft won’t. So here’s what you can expect to see in an eventual March preview release.
Screenshots of Windows 10 build 10031 began leaking a few days ago. This build may or may not be the one we get through the Windows 10 Preview Program, but whatever: what we do see officially should be pretty close to this. Here’s what you can expect.
(Unless otherwise noted, the screenshots are from WZOR, a Russian leaker site.)
New OOBE. This new build will feature a new out of box experience (OOBE), which will differ sharply from the current version, which dates back to Windows 8. The new OOBE is “cloud-hosted”—not hard-coded on disc—meaning that it can be more easily updated going forward. There are OneDrive and Cortana opt-in screens. And on the Pro SKU, you will be able to sign-in to a corporate Active Directory account instead of a Microsoft account.
No more Media Center? If you are upgrading a PC with Windows Media Center installed, you will see a warning during Setup that you will “lose” Media Center. It’s not clear if this means Media Center is going away, of course, and you won’t see this warning if you never actually used Media Center. (Though I assume you will still “lose” it during the upgrade.)
Updated sign-in screen. The sign-in screen has been updated slightly with a bigger and centered user circle.
Project Spartan. The next preview release will be the first to include Project Spartan, giving a wide audience their first chance to see whether Microsoft finally gets it when it comes to the web. I’m hopeful but realistic, but Microsoft clearly believes: it has removed the Internet Explorer shortcut from the taskbar. (Check out Leak Reveals Cortana Integration in Project Spartan for more info on this new browser.)
Better edge gestures. A leaked support document notes that build 10031 is the first to include “a larger gesture detection area around the edges of touch displays to help lower cost devices perform edge gestures better than in previous builds.”
Updated desktop. The controversial new icons are all still present, of course, and we see transparency return to the Start menu. I could be wrong but I think the Start button graphic is smaller, too.
Updated Task View. The Task View interface has been slightly updated with a new “New Desktop” icon treatment on the far right of the display now (rather than the center).
In addition to this coming desktop preview release—yes, originally expected in February—Microsoft will also at some point (hopefully before Build in late April) release a new preview of Windows 10 for phones. At different events recently, I’ve seen Microsoft employees using the Windows 10 preview on the Lumia 930, 1520 and 830, so certainly a wider range of phones is doable right now. But Gabe Aul confirmed via Twitter that “more phones” will be supported in the next build. Whenever that is.