Good news, Windows fans: the wait is over. Microsoft this morning released Windows 10 Technical Preview 2 (TP2), or what is sometimes called the “January build of the Windows Technical Preview.” No matter what you call it, Windows 10 build 9926 is now available for download in x86, x64 and Enterprise variants.
(In other words, the phone and small tablet version is not available yet. That will be out in February, my sources tell me.)
As a reminder, not all of the Windows 10 features that Microsoft showed off at this week’s media event are available in this new build. But Microsoft says that it will resume the quick release cadence going forward—we haven’t seen a new build since November—and that new features will be added as we go. But here’s what’s new in this release:
Cortana. Microsoft’s digital personal assistant comes to the desktop.
Improved Start menu. The Windows 10 Start menu has been restyled and now works full-screen (instead of requiring you to switch to a separate Start screen).
New Settings app. PC Settings looks more like Control Panel now and works consistently across device types. (Contrary to reports, Control Panel has not been integrated into this app, but you can search for control panels from here.)
Action Center. The Action Center notification center gets a huge update, with Quick Actions, just like Windows Phone.
New universal apps. Photos and Maps have been updated to new universal app types, and the new Xbox app debuts.
Windows Store Beta. We saw this in leaked builds, but the new store is available alongside the old one so you can see how it’s progressing.
To download this and future Windows 10 pre-release builds, you need to join the Windows Insider Program first.
Once you’ve done so, you can download the ISOs from the Windows web site. You can then copy this ISO to a bootable DVD disc or USB memory stick using the free Windows USB/DVD Download Tool. And then upgrade or clean install as you desire.
If you’re already running the Technical Preview, navigate to Settings, Update and Recovery, Preview Builds and click Check Now. The build will download and then install.
I’m installing it now and expect to be writing about this new build—and Windows 10 in general—for many weeks to come.