Microsoft Releases Biggest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build Yet

Posted on January 9, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 61 Comments

Microsoft Releases Biggest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build Yet

Today, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 build 15002 was available for Insiders on the Fast ring. One thing is already clear: This is the biggest Creators Update build so far.

Let me rattle through the many changes while I download and install this build.

Microsoft Edge improvements

Tab preview bar. Today, Edge provides a tab preview in a pop-up window when you mouse over each tab. But in this build, Microsoft has added a new tab preview bar that is accessible via a caret next to the new tab button: When selected, a new tab preview bar appears so you can scan visually through the list of open web sites.

Set these tabs aside. Edge now provides a new UI for setting aside tabs—cleaning up the user interface so you can work without the distractions—and then get them back when you’re ready to access the “tabs you’ve set aside.” Eh. This seems kind of superfluous to me: If you need a fresh browser window, just open a new one.

Jump list. Edge now supports a jump list, a feature Microsoft first added to Windows in Windows 7. Nice to see the modern web browser jumping on this modern Windows feature. Cough. 🙂

Flash Click-to-Run. Edge finally blocks untrusted Flash content by default, though you can enable it on the fly with a new toolbar button, and choose between “Allow once” and “Always allow.”

Web payments. Edge now supports the Payment Request API, meaning you can now use payment methods configured in Microsoft Wallet to pay for things on compatible web sites.

Performance and reliability improvements. Thanks to a new “UWP architecture for its multi-process model,” Edge should be more stable, responsive, and resilient, Microsoft says.

Start improvements

Tile folders. Windows 10 now supports tile folders in Start, or what’s called Live Folders in Windows phone, because why be consistent. “Tile folders are a way for you to organize and personal your tiles in Start, and we’re happy to now bring this to Windows 10 PCs,” Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar explains. “To get started, drag and drop a tile on top of another tile in Start to create a folder.” Yes, just as with Windows Phone.

Shell improvements

New Share experience. As expected, Microsoft has begun rolling out the new Share experience it previewed at the Creators Update event in October 2016. Now, Share appears as a flyout instead of a Windows 8-style pane. And the old Windows 8-style WIN + H keyboard shortcut has been removed.

Capture a screen region. Because OneNote Mobile is included with Windows 10, it is a part of Windows 10, and thus a new OneNote Mobile feature is now a new Windows 10 feature? Got it? Good, because now you can capture part of the screen and then copy it to the clipboard by typing WIN + SHIFT + S. If you’re using Outlook 2016, this will replace the similar functionality in that app.

Improved high DPI support for desktop apps. Given my contention that Microsoft may never be able to fix high DPI in Windows, this one is very interesting: This build update individual in-box apps to be more scalable in high DPI, including Performance Monitor (Perfmon), and it allows the user to enable this on (some) individual apps (!). To do so, right-click on the application’s .exe file, select Properties, navigate to the Compatibility tab, and then turn on System (Enhanced) DPI scaling. Then click OK. “This setting overrides the way that applications handle DPI scaling (which sometimes uses bitmap stretching and can result in applications rendering blurry) and forces them to be scaled by Windows,” Ms. Sarkar explains. “The setting that was previously labeled Disable display scaling on high DPI settings is now referred to as Application scaling.” Note that this works only for apps that use GDI. So you’ll need to test this on an app-by-app basis.

Smoother window resizing. Thanks to complaints about bad window resize animations, Microsoft has fixed this issue and made this resizing effect smoother.

Desktop icon placement and scaling improvements. This was another big complaint, especially from those who dock and undock their PC. Now, Windows will handle these types of changes better, Microsoft says. But what about when you switch between portrait and landscape, one wonders? That screws everything up.

Simpler, faster VPN. The Network taskbar flyout now features a Connect link for those who have a VPN configured. So you no longer need to visit VPN Settings to connect to your VPN.

Lunar calendar support. The Calendar taskbar flyout now supports Simplified and Traditional Chinese lunar calendars, which you can view alongside the current Gregorian date.

Improved notifications. Developers can now create custom subgroups for their app notifications in Action Center. You can learn more here.

Windows Ink improvements

UX improvements. The Windows Ink pen, pencil and highlighter controls have been updated so that they display the currently-selected color.

Point erase. A new point erase tool has been added to the Sketchpad and Screen Sketch apps.”This means that now you have the option of deleting your whole ink stroke or erasing only pieces of it,” Ms. Sarkar writes. “You can select your desired option by tapping the eraser icon, where you’ll find new options to switch between eraser types.”

Taskbar improvements. If you are using a multi-monitor system, the Windows Ink Workspace button will appear on the taskbar on every display.

Cortana improvements

App-specific commmand suggestions. Now, as you start typing commands into the Cortana search box, Cortana will suggest app-specific commands. If you’re not sure which apps support this functionality, check out this neat Better with Cortana apps collection in the Windows Store.

Reminders improvements. Now, you have more reminders occurrences from which to choose, including “every month” and “every year.”

Keyboard shortcut changes. The WINKEY + C keyboard shortcut was removed in the Anniversary Update but it’s making a comeback: Now it’s there, but off by default. You can re-enable it in Settings. Or, you can use the new WINKEY + SHIFT + C shortcut to invoke the App Charms menu, which is seen in the title bar of Windows 8 apps.

Accessibility improvements

Build 15002 introduces a ton of accessibility improvements, including Cortana support during Setup, Narrator support for WinPE (Windows Preinstallation Environment) and WinRE (Windows Recovery Environment), Braille support, various Narrator improvements, and improved legibility in high contrast modes.

Windows Defender improvements

Windows Defender gets a lot of improvements, such as new options to run quick, advanced, or full scans; device performance and health scans with PC health reports; visual improvements to Family options; Settings improvements; and various bug fixes and improvements.

Settings improvements

The Settings app gets a ton of improvements. I’m only listing the highlights:

Improved layout and design. Settings has been overhauled so that you can find what you need, and get more information, more easily.

Bluetooth & Other Devices settings. Microsoft has finally combined Connected Devices and Bluetooth settings into a single Bluetooth & Other Devices settings. I never understood why these were separate.

Display settings improvements. Likewise, Microsoft has finally put the most frequently-needed Display settings in, get this, Display settings. Previously, you needed to visit a Control Panel UI to access such “advanced” settings as the screen resolution, which was always silly.

Lower blue light. Yep, f.lux is finally superfluous.

Blue Screen of Death

The Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) has become the Green Screen of Death (GSOD) on Windows Insider builds only so that Microsoft can “more easily distinguish Windows Insider reports vs the reports of those on production builds.”

There is SO much more. But check out the Microsoft blog post for the full list. This build is nuts.


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