Leaked Windows 10 Build Offers Tons of Promise for 2017

Posted on December 27, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 55 Comments

Leaked Windows 10 Build Offers Tons of Promise for 2017

With Windows Insider builds appearing as often as twice a week this past year, the notion of a “leaked” build seems almost quaint. But a newly leaked build of Windows 10 version 1703 provides an interesting dose of both nostalgia and promise. And in some ways, this build shows off more of what we can expect in the Windows 10 Creators Update than any of the previous builds.

Note: News of this leaked build was first reported by Windows Central.

As you may recall, Microsoft plans to ship two major updates to Windows 10 in 2017. The first, called the Creators Update and previously codenamed “Redstone 2,” is expected in March, and it will upgrade Windows 10 to version 1703. (The current version is 1607, for its July 2016 release date.) The second update is due more vaguely in the second half of 2017 and still goes by its “Redstone 3” codename.

This newly leaked build is, of course, part of the Windows 10 version 1703 pre-release work on which Microsoft is currently working. It is build 14997, a smallish bump from the previous Windows Insider release, which was build 14986. That build arrived on December 7, just ahead of Microsoft’s mid-December work stoppage, and while Microsoft had hoped to ship one more build before the entire campus basically emptied, none achieved the desired level of quality.

Build 14997 comes from the “rsonecorebase” development branch, which offers a subset of what we typically see from the Insider builds. (The Insider builds aggregate new features and fixes from across the various development branches.) So rsonecorebase is, as its name suggests, related to the common core of the OS—the kernel, of course, but also common shared code—that works across platforms. And in this case what we’re seeing is what we might have seen had Microsoft gotten an Insider build out the week of December 12. (The build is dated December 18, 2016.)

And now we can see why they were so keen to do so: Build 14997 is chock full of new features, something we’ve only seen once or twice since the Creators Update announcement. This would have been a fine Christmas/Hanukkah/whatever present for Microsoft’s biggest fans if they could have pulled it off.

But we don’t need to wait for January to see the new Insider build. Instead, we just have to wait for the leaked build to download. Which is going to take a while. So in the meantime, I’ll base this first peek on the features Windows Central has dug up so far, but I’ll add my own perspective for a deeper understanding of what’s really happening here.

Here’s what’s new.

Cortana comes to Setup. As you may know from reading the Windows 10 Field Guide, Windows 10 Setup is divided into two major interactive phases, the second of which was once called the Out Of Box Experience, or OOBE. This is the part of Setup where you add the first user to the PC, determine whether to use Express settings, and the like. In build 14997, Setup has been enhanced—well, changed—to include Cortana voice control, so you can speak to the PC instead of clicking buttons and filling out text fields. This is actually a pretty terrible idea, but I think Microsoft is looking ahead to a point where this actually works well and is a normal way to interact with technology. And of course you can make the claim that it’s more accessible, which is never a negative.

Start menu folders. Answering a long-standing customer request, Microsoft has added expandable/collapsible folders to the tiles area of the Start menu, just like we had via Live Folders in Windows phone 8.1.1, which debuted in mid-2014. Why this feature was never included in Windows 10 is unclear, but it looks like it will finally make the cut in the fourth major version of the OS.

Microsoft Edge improvements. Microsoft’s woeful web browser continues to inch forward slowly. This build includes a new “Set these tabs aside” toggle that lets you, um, set tabs aside so they don’t take up all that space in the tabs row. And there’s a new Tab Preview view that lets you preview all open tabs so you can easily find the right one.

New Share UI. As promised at the Creators Update announcement, Microsoft is revising the Share UI in Windows 10 to include a simple new pop-up based interface that replaces the Share pane that dates back to Windows 8.0. In build 14997, you can see this new UI in any app that uses Share. But the My People feature, which will also use the new Share, is apparently not available.

Cortana changes. Previous to Windows 10 version 1607, you could type WINKEY + C to access Cortana, even if it was hidden on the taskbar. In 1703, WINKEY + C is making a comeback, where you can use this shortcut to toggle Cortana’s listening mode. That means you can easily toggle it off when it gets annoying.

Windows Update improvements. Microsoft had previously promised to make Windows Update less painful, and proving how easy that can be, build 14997 includes a new Pause Updates option in Windows Update that lets you temporarily pause the delivery of new updates for up to 35 days. This should nicely answer complaints about the quality of newly-released updates, since the more pragmatic will be able to hold off until they’re proven safe. (Some updates, like those for Windows Defender, will of course continue to come through on the normal schedule, Microsoft notes.)

Settings improvements. No, Control Panel isn’t going away in this build, and it’s weird that people want this so badly. But Settings has been updated in minor ways in build 14997, with a new Apps top-level choice, pulling that out of System, and subtle improvements throughout Settings. The long-awaited Blue light setting, which works like f.lux, also makes its debut. You may recall that Brad wrote about this addition earlier in 2016.

Windows Defender improvements. In the current Insider builds, there’s a new Windows Defender modern app that’s a sort of front-end to the real (Win32) Defender applications, but it’s very sparse. In this new build, that modern app has been built out and now offers a Security Center-like dashboard for all of the PC’s security features. They should just call it Security Center, frankly. Too obvious?

But wait, there’s more. There are numerous other small changes, of course. None worth highlighting.

I won’t be putting this on a real PC, as that’s what virtual machines are for. So I’ll try to dig up more later today. But if you’re interested in testing this build—you crazy person, you—-look for a file named10.0.14997.1001.rsonecorebase.161218-0833amd64freclient-enterprisevolumeen-us-CENA_X64FREVEN-USDV5. The truth is out there.


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Comments (63)

63 responses to “Leaked Windows 10 Build Offers Tons of Promise for 2017”

  1. 1321

    With regards to Edge I think calling it woeful is a bit strong, its perfectly fine for the casual user. Sure it lacks the large library of extensions that power users expect but I would say its a whole lot more stable and less crash happy than it once was.

    • 2

      In reply to nightmare99:

      I know we all have opinions, but I am very comfortable with the way I described Edge. :)

    • 5767

      In reply to nightmare99:

      Honestly I think the coup has flown here. Even if Edge reached total feature parity with Google Chrome I still wouldn't switch because my entire digital life is basically in Google account.

    • 1820

      In reply to nightmare99:

      I would agree with Paul. It's bad. It frequently freezes to the point I can't switch tabs or close it. I try it every now and then and shortly thereafter switch back to Chrome.

      • 2149

        In reply to jbinaz: I hate to say it, but I agree. I resist moving to Chrome for some reason, but with Edge as prone to freezing as it is, and having full extension support, I might switch. On a somewhat related note, why does it feel like Microsoft is trailing all of their competitors in almost every category? Edge vs Chrome, Cortana vs Google Now, Xbox vs PS4, OneDrive vs Google Drive, Maps vs Google Maps, Outlook.com vs Gmail, Cortana Cube vs Google Home/Amazon Echo, Groove Music vs Spotify/Play Music/Apple Music, Skype vs WhatsApp for messaging, watered down Metro design guidelines vs Material design... in either quality or number of users, Microsoft is behind on so many fronts.


        • 241

          In reply to PhilipVasta:

          In general I agree with the thought, though Google is not always what I would consider the best in class (DropBox, FireFox, Apple Maps, etc,). And personally I hate gmail and prefer Outlook. Though the latest update to Outlook.com removed some of features I really liked. And I don't use Chrome (had too many issues in the past) but use a combo of Edge/Fire Fox/Opera and IE (work-related). In the past few months though I have seen many issues with performance/freezing on my Surface Pro 4. (Not my desktop though.)

          I used Android for a time this year and was not very impressed by the design. I use an iPhone now. I still think the WM10/WP8 UI is better than the Material design from Google. Just my opinion. I do think a a big part of it is that those companies mentioned are focused on the consumer first while the consumer space is a lower area of interest for Microsoft.

    • 1387

      In reply to nightmare99:

      What bothers me about this is the off-the-cuff insult without any rationale. There's far too much of that going on here.

      The last things I remember Paul complaining about with regards to Edge was lack of extensions and the ability to pin specific sites to the task bar. 

      The extensions issue was mostly about ad blocking, which is now available. The pinning thing, while I'm sure important to Paul, has to be a non-issue for 99% of the world. 

      In fact the last article I recall seeing about Edge had Paul lauding it's battery life saving capabilities over the memory monstrosity that is Chrome.

      So why is Edge awful, Paul?

      Yes, we all have opinions. But, we don't all make money writing our opinions down on the Internet for others to consider as expert advice.

  2. 1820

    Could the voice setup for Cortana be looking ahead to when you might have a Windows powered device that doesn't have a screen and not just when it becomes a normal way to interact with technology? If I recall correctly, on Windows Weekly the "final answer" was that you can't Windows 10 (IoT or others) must have a screen but non-Windows devices that use the Cortana SDK don't require a screen? Is that right? Could it be that will change and at some point you can use voice for setup for Windows on devices without a screen?

  3. 214

    Thank you very much for this insight into both the process and the status. Your efforts to keep us informed are really appreciated :-)

  4. 5485

     If they could just fix the WiFi in SP3 once and for all (and other system gliches)   You know I got the high end and MS and the cover.... Over $2000.

    Never mind gave it to me wife for web and stuff.  I now have a proper do more system with no glitches,  no need to baby sit. (aspirational baby sitters) 

  5. 5767

    What about fix Edge bookmark management?

  6. 7803

    I wish they would fix the damned CompTelRunner.exe that nukes my Surface (30% to 50% of the proc, 100% of ssd at times) that is running 1607, seems to run everytime I run VS and a debug session.. Even contemplated going with recovery mode and deleting that damned file.

  7. 9560

    I agree with your characterization of Edge as "woeful". I really want it to be successful (besides being a former MSFT employee), it's much needed (your own site doesn't even work well on the current build of ye olde IE).
    It's slick in some regards but awful in others. Too many gimmicks when all we wanted was an IE that works. Besides apps, it's missing some of the most basic productivity elements - on the task bar for example a right click "open new tab" would be very useful. So I can't yet use this for daily workflow. I'm stuck on IE (and Firefox for sites where IE doesn't work). And no, I won't go to the even worse Chrome.

    • 9562

      In reply to jwfisher01:

      Edge is dead in the water.  As long as its stuck in UWP/windows store jail and is only available on one version of one operating system, nevermind CRASHES constantly, it's going nowhere.

      You may not like Chrome because you're a "former MSFT employee" or whatever but it happens to be the best browser.

    • 5534

      In reply to jwfisher01: Both IE and Edge are broken on every computer I have, regardless of which Public or Insider version of Windows 10 is installed. They're both constantly locking up, pages crash, and it often takes 5 or 10 minutes to post a small comment like this one because of the lag while typing. And they've both been like this for at least a couple months.


  8. 9588

    I actually liked the Control Panel, but obviously MS doesn't. So, if they going to put everything on the *new and improved Settings page*, go ahead and do it already. Either that or just go back to Control Panel. One place for all settings, easy enough.

  9. 473

    Why won't they bring back the right-click "refresh" option in Edge?

    I waste so much time right-clicking and then realising that I have to go up to the toolbar to do a refresh it's insane!

  10. 5553

    December 7th...a day that will live in infamy...

  11. 486

    I think you're not fond of them, but I use a small Windows tablet for reading in bed (miraculously, the nook app still works). It only has one micro USB port, which must be taken up by an adapter and keyboard when I do a clean install. I look forward to Cortana use during setup. It will make installs so much faster and easier.

  12. 5528

    Not related to article but when is this commenting system going to the creator update? The similarities between this system and Windows 10 are that they were both released half-baked ?

  13. 1377

    So there are only Live Tile folders? Guess I'll keep using Classic Shell.

    All things considered, I'll still take Windows 8.1.1 with Classic Shell over Windows 7 and any of the Windows 10 builds.

  14. 1377

    Re Cortana in Setup, typical MSFT focusing on eyewash/sizzle rather than actual functionality. Gimme a simple mechanism to create a separate PARTITION for the Users directory (I can live with there being a C:\Users\Administrator directory). or if registry hives just have to be on C:, give me a simple mechanism for putting all users' C:\Users\<username>\Documents on a different partition. I can't see that Cortana is needed for that.

  15. 3216

    While I understand Microsoft's desire to continue to muddy the distinction between Updates and Upgrades, version updates are really upgrades.  There is a true distinction between these two things, partly because you can defer upgrades with WinPro, but also because the OS goes through the same process to upgrade from one version to another as it did when it upgraded people from Win7/8 to Win10.

    So, please, could everyone (particularly tech writers) stop calling these Updates and call them Upgrades to distinguish them from the routine monthly updates?

  16. 5027

    worth to mention though is that this leaked build is an Enterprise edition, so the improvements for updates might not come to normal consumers

  17. 6243

    The reason I want Control Panel to go away is because I hate having two places where settings are stored. To me, the two settings applications are a lingering reminder of the split personality OS that was Windows 8.

    • 1377

      In reply to Fiddle:

      I'm perverse. I'd love to see a console (cscript) settings program which accepts commandline arguments and has an interactive mode.

      I prefer the TMTOWTDI philosophy. That said, I'd like to see all settings in UWP/Modern app, desktop applet and console. Other than adding printers when I visit new field offices, I don't really use either Control Panel or Settings. I have a few dozen .REG files which I apply on new systems to handle most of my configuration preferences.

    • 5539

      In reply to Fiddle: I don't think of it as two places settings are stored, but rather two places they can be accessed. Settings doesn't yet cover 100% of what Control Panel does, so there is still a need. It is sort of like your e-mail which can be accessed via the Mail app, or via Outlook. Same stuff, but different options/capabilities in the interface. 


      • 8853

        In reply to SvenJ:

        Yes, but opening Control Panel feels like going back in time.

      • 9077

        In reply to SvenJ:

        I smell MSFT employee.  There's no reason that the schizofrenic control panel still be split between the real deal Win32 version and the fischer-price metro UI version.  

        They've had over 5+ years to fix this mess when they created it with Windows 8.  Half a decade.  It's more than obvious they just don't care, there is no longterm vision.

  18. 8853

    I am genuinely happy about the Start menu folders. The more the right half of my Start menu looks like a Windows Phone Start screen, the happier I will be, since the phone Start screen is both a beautiful and beautifully effective launcher UI. Furthermore, the Start menu should be freely resizable in "small tile" width increments. Next up, tabbed browsing in File Explorer? ... please? ... pretty please?

    I'd love to see screen shots of this "set these tabs aside" thingy. Your description leaves me unclear as to what this does, and whether it will be as workable as tab-stacks à la Vivaldi, which I've become fairly addicted to at work (tab stacking isn't so much needed at home, and my latest fling is with the surprisingly delightful and well-made Yandex browser, which I am using now). Edge has a few innovative features that I have actually used in real life - such as annotating and sharing a webpage and right-click "asking" Cortana (which can be much less disruptive than right-click searching in a new tab with a search engine). Edge updates really need to be completely unchained from Windows updates and should happen frequently.

  19. 5592

    Just a reminder that '“Redstone 2,” is expected in March' doesn't meant Microsoft said it would ship in March. It just means that is the industry pundits' best guess. 

    If Creators Update doesn't ship until April that's the pundits getting it wrong and not Microsoft missing a date they committed to.


    • 2

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      The version number 1703 comes from Microsoft, not from speculation or guessing. 

    • 2

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Also: I use the version number/date because it's a way to describe Microsoft's (and thus our) expectations and this product version. Should it miss that date, whatever. It's not about Microsoft missing a date, this thing gets updated all the time. The Anniversary Update still isn't rolled out completely and it's 5 months later.

      • 5592

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        At the October event they just said "Early next year" and the current marketing material says "Coming Soon". I take that as, at most, committing to shipping it before the end of June. 

        The problem is this industry tends to take rumors and pretend they're official announcements and then criticize the vendors for not actually matching the rumors. The top example being the "cancellation" of  the Microsoft Research "Courier" project. It was never announced as a future product any more than Microsoft's "House of the Future" and "Office of the Future" videos were product roadmaps but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who heard of it who won't insist that it was ready to ship until it was cancelled at the last minute.


  20. 5534

    I got a bit excited when you mentioned that Cortana has been added to setup, but then disappointed when it wasn't added as an option to not install at all. I'll never use Cortana, and it's just a pain in the ass being there, with it's constantly telling me it can work better if I asked it a question (or something to that affect). And I completely agree with you about Control Panel. Why anyone thinks the new setup screens are better than Control Panel is a mystery.

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