If you’re testing Windows 10 in the Fast Ring—or “really testing Windows 10,” as I think of it—build 10061 is a real milestone of sorts. No, it doesn’t completely address the questions I raised about the viability of this system on tablets and other touch-first devices. But this is the first build to suggest that the evolved user experience will be cohesive and even attractive. And with Windows 10 apparently barreling towards completion, that’s good news.
Over the past few days, Microsoft has issued new builds of Windows 10 for both phones—build 10052, issued Tuesday—and for PCs and larger tablets; this is build 10061. Both represent significant steps up in quality from their predecessors, and while phone in particular still has some rough spots, the progress is appreciated. I was starting to worry that Windows 10 would never come together visually, and with news of a suddenly-close July launch/whatever, it’s fair to say I was starting to get a bit worried.
Build 10061 partially addresses those worries.
No, it doesn’t bring back or try to approximate the edge gestures—like Switcher and Charms—from Windows 8.x. But it does handle the transition between desktop mode and Tablet mode more elegantly than before. Consider the following screenshot, which is your basic Windows 10 desktop in the normal, desktop mode.
When I switch to Tablet mode—using the quick action button in the Action Center; this doesn’t work automatically yet, at least by default, on Surface Pro 3—things change. As you can see, the Start experience changes from a menu to a full-screen view. The taskbar buttons representing running apps and open windows disappear (though you can change that behavior). And more subtly, the notification icons in the lower right of the screen space out more—they don’t actually get bigger—to make them easier to tap with your finger.
In this mode, things work as before. You can swipe from the left edge of the screen—which was Switcher in Windows 8.x—to access Task View and switch between running apps and other open windows.
Or, you can swipe in from the right—previously Charms—to access Action Center. This display is mostly about notifications, of course, but the quick action buttons at the bottom provide access to some commonly needed items like Settings (via “All Settings”), Media Connect (previously Devices, Play) that we expect from Windows 8.x.
Oddly enough, the most important bit in all that is the notification icons. Yes, really. Because that kind of fit and finish work—a little thing that really helps—is what’s been missing from previous Windows 10 builds. And taken in concert with a suddenly more cohesive application of the stark new Windows visual style—which you can see in various universal apps as well as base OS experiences like Task View and virtual desktops—it really does seem like this thing is coming together.
Because I’ve been using leaked builds, I’ve seen many of the enhancements in this build before. The resizable Start experience. Transparency. And the Power button moving from the top right of Start to the more accessible lower left. It’s all good. But I think the ability to really customize experience—semi-hidden away in Settings—with background choices, color schemes, and so on is a big deal. This is the stuff that will cause people to really have a connection with their Windows 10-based devices.
I’m just surprised you can’t really change the color of the windows: the various color options can change Start, the taskbar, and Action Center … but the windows remain a dull gray. That’s odd.
There are some new apps—Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar take a bow in this build, though again I was already using them in build 10056. And other apps, like Project Spartan and Music and Video seem to be cleaner looking, though you can’t download content in those latter two at the moment. (A fix is coming, apparently.)
I may actually use this one. I will put it on some more devices first, to be sure. But this build has rekindled the hope that Microsoft might actually pull this one together. And it makes July look possible. At least on the desktop.
Tagged with Windows 10 Technical Preview 2