Microsoft today announced a new pre-release build of Windows 10 for PCs that adds a number of new features, user interface polish, and stability and quality improvements. Build 10158 is now available as an upgrade for Windows Insiders on the Fast Ring.
I was boarding the plane to Ireland when I received news of the new build, so it’s not clear when I’ll be able to actually download it. But based on the list of new features, all the major improvements were already available in the leaked build, 10147, that I’m currently using.
Here’s what Microsoft says is new.
Microsoft Edge. This is the first public build in which Microsoft’s new web browser receives its final branding. It has a number of new features, too, unless of course you’ve been using leaked builds, in which case this will seem old hat: an optional Home button, favorites/bookmarks importing from other browsers, startup options, a minimal set of New Tab page customizations, a password manager with auto-fill, form-fill support, audio playback support in hidden tabs or when the app is minimized, the ability to drag tabs to a new window, and an optional dark theme.
Continuum improvements. Continuum gets improved Tablet Mode animations, improved support for classic (Win32) desktop applications and Modern apps, and a number of bug fixes.
Start improvements. Start picks up two improvements I’m embarrassed to say I missed in the leaked build I’m currently using. The first one should be appreciated by some Windows 8.1 users: you can now swipe up in Start (in menu or in full screen/Tablet Mode) to see the All Apps list. And when you are viewing All Apps, you can now click/tap on a letter heading to view a grid of letters so you jump around in the list quickly. (This is just like All Apps on Windows Phone.)
Taskbar improvements. Now, when an app needs your attention, its taskbar icon will flash in orange, like it did in Windows 8. And when a taskbar icon is displaying progress—like a web download or file copy—the green animation is horizontal (left to right) as it was originally. (Microsoft used a vertical progress animation in the last public build and a lot of people complained.)
Cortana improvements. Cortana picks up a ton of changes in this build. The digital personal assistant now supports a dark theme to match the rest of the system. Flight and package tracking alerts are enabled, as are commute and airport travel alerts. And you can now send email messages with your voice (though you have to be online and using US English for this to work). Cortana’s menu pane has been cleaned up, and Microsoft says that the Cortana notebook is now in its final form. Finally, Cortana is also picking up Office 365 integration features in this build, though it appears to only work for commercial (not consumer) versions of the service and your organization has to have opted into First Release updates. I’m curious to see what that’s all about.
Photos app improvements. The Photos app will be updated through Windows Store (Beta). It now supports animated GIFs, has an Open With option while viewing photos; picks up Saved Photos, Screenshots, and Camera Roll folder links in Albums; and received general performance and reliability improvements. There are various general performance and reliability improvements too.
Snipping Tool improvements. The classic Snipping Tool desktop application—which can be used to capture all or part of the screen—has inexplicably been updated with an optional countdown timer of 1 to 5 seconds.
No more Insider Hub. With Windows 10 expected to RTM very soon, the Insider Hub app is no longer installed by default. To install it, navigate to Settings, System, Apps & Features and click the “Manage optional features” link. Then, click Add Feature and select Insider Hub from the (alphabetical) list.
Surface 3 is a go. If you’re a Surface 3 user, Microsoft says that the issue it had with the previous public build has been fixed, and you can go for it and upgrade to this build.
Surface Pro 3 improvements. There are several fixes this build that Microsoft says will improve battery life compared to the previous public build.
No (!) known issues. Microsoft says there aren’t any significant known issues for this build. That said, it is still fixing bugs and it’s likely that some 10158-specific Windows Updates will appear as the team works to get this build out to the Slow ring next.
New SDK on Tuesday. In addition to these improvements, Microsoft also announced that it will release a new version of the Windows 10 SDK for this build starting on Tuesday. (I’m writing this on the plane on Monday, but probably won’t get to publish it until sometime Tuesday.) This new SDK version will include a matching version of the Windows 10 Mobile emulator so developers can create apps that utilize the latest Windows 10 capabilities and APIs.