A new Windows 10 Technical Preview 2 leak—build 10056—provides a more complete look at Microsoft’s next client OS. This build includes features many have been waiting for, like a resizable Start experience and a dark theme, plus some new apps and numerous user experience tweaks. Let’s take a quick look.
Dark theme. Previous Windows 10 builds have used only a stark light theme, where the Start experience, taskbar and is displayed in a dull gray color. In this build, the expected dark theme appears, providing far more visual contrast. (One wonders whether there isn’t some middle ground to be had as well.) Transparency toggling makes a comeback in this build as well.
Start. The Start experience toggles between a menu and full screen as before, but now you can resize it (up/down and left/right) when menued. There’s also a new animation when you display Start, which is surprisingly non-irritating. The Power menu button has been moved to the bottom of the menu for some reason. (Not sure why you’d want this to be easier to reach: in 2015, no one should need to power down a PC very often.)
Taskbar. There are new tray icons, and Windows Defender is there now after disappearing from the tray in Windows 8.x.
Tablet mode. Contrary to reports—one of which also incorrectly describes tablet mode as “touch mode”—tablet mode hasn’t changed significantly in this build. It still displays apps—including desktop applications—in full screen, and still uses the same edge swipes as before as well.
Notification center. The Notification center is starting to address complaints about the missing Charms—there’s a Media Connection quick action tile now, for example—but unless I’m missing something it seems like there are fewer Quick Actions than before. Probably temporary.
Recycle bin. The reviled Recycle bin icon from previous builds—which I actually liked—has been replaced by a new squared-off version which reminds me of the icon from Windows 95. So your national nightmare is over, unless of course you don’t like this version either. Which you won’t.
Task view. The Task view icon in the taskbar has changed to a stark outline design, similar to the new tray icons and the status bar icons in Windows 10 Mobile. I don’t like this look, but it’s more in keeping with the new universal app look and feel.
Mail and Calendar apps. As reported previously, post-10049 builds also include the new Mail and Calendar universal apps, which you can see in the newly-released Windows 10 Mobile build for phones as well. The apps are separate, but each includes a toggle so you can jump to the other without having to fish through Start first. I’ll be looking at these interesting app updates in more detail soon.
Microsoft Solitaire Collection. Available to Windows 8+ users for free from the Windows Store and preinstalled on some PCs for the past two years, Microsoft Solitaire Collection is included in build 10056 for some reason. It doesn’t appear to have been updated, however, beyond now being a universal app.
Weather. The MSN Weather app has been updated with a new design, as MSN’s content apps say goodbye to Modern app navigation.
Store (Beta). No changes to the Store (Beta) experience, which offers movies and TV shows now in addition to apps and games, but not music (yet).
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