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In the wake of Microsoft’s many new announcements last week, on Friday the company also released the latest build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview. And while the previous builds were really good improvements that blended Windows 8 and its predecessors, this newest version of Windows 10 feels like something new, different, and excellent.

So what’s new and good in this build of Windows 10?

cortana-windows-10-brian
Cortana is alive in the new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

A post on the Windows Insider Blog has the scoop, explaining lots of the new changes. For instance, that users now access Cortana on the desktop. Cortana, as you may be aware, is Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, who responds to voice commands and can do all sorts of good stuff with your computer. She can search your files and add appointments to your calendar – but she’s Microsoft-specific, so if you use services from other companies, you may be SOL when it comes to the more advanced functions. For instance, if you ask Cortana to search something, you’ll get a Bing search result. Hopefully there’ll be a way to modify what Cortana does in certain ways, but I haven’t dived deep enough yet to see. I have my doubts, but maybe when the final version of Windows 10 is released, we’ll be able to monkey around a little more…

The new build of Windows 10 also ditches the Charms Bar in favor of an expanded Action Center, which provides access to settings, notifications, and other bells and whistles. Gone, sadly, is the ability to adjust screen brightness manually via a slider, but aside from that, the new Action Center is really helpful. It’s easier than ever to make changes to your computer and connect to networks and devices. The new build also features Continuum, so you can easily and quickly switch between Tablet Mode and Desktop mode. My Surface Pro 3 has never felt so, well, tablety! The Start Menu has also been revamped again, once more blending elements of past Start Menus with the Modern/Metro stylings of Windows 8. You can swap apps in and out at your discretion, and I think it works great.

The new Action Center in Windows 10 Technical Preview.
The new Action Center in Windows 10 Technical Preview.

The full-screen button to app windows has also been revamped, making it easier to access and recognize. Animations seem smoother, too, and the snap feature works more reliably (in my estimation, at least). Also changed: Windows 10 now works with the Windows Display Adapter. For the first time since receiving the HDMI dongle released late last year, I’ve been able to extend my Windows desktop onto my television. Hooray!

There are also some issues going on in this latest build – don’t forget, as polished as Windows 10 looks, this is still a preview that’s in-progress. Here’s the list of glitches that Microsoft provides:

  • After installing this build, you may see a boot selection menu each time you reboot your PC. This is because a bug where a second boot option is persisted to uninstall the Windows 10 Technical Preview and roll back to the previous OS installed. When you get to this screen, if you do nothing it will automatically boot to the Windows 10 Technical Preview within 30 seconds by default or you can choose it on your own. Don’t worry, this behavior is only temporary.
  • Xbox Live enabled games that require sign-in will not launch correctly. If you see the below dialog box the game requires Xbox Live sign-in. A fix for this will be distributed via WU shortly after the release of Build 9926.

xbox-games-error

  • Battery icon shows on lock screen of PCs without batteries.
  • Tiles on the Start menu show truncated app names (such as the Windows Feedback app).
  • Remote Desktop has some painting issues that result in tiled pixelation.
  • Connected Standby enabled devices like Surface Pro 3 may experience shorter than expected battery life.
  • In Cortana, reminders can’t be edited and more complex reminders might not get created. The first reminder you create in Cortana in this build might not pop up, but subsequent ones will. Completed reminders also don’t move to the History page in Cortana’s Notebook.
  • The Music app will disappear if minimized within 16 seconds of launch. Just leave it in the foreground for 20 seconds or so and it should work just fine.
  • Occasionally, the Start Menu is improperly registered and will fail to launch.

Overall, I’m super happy with the latest build, and I can’t wait to see what Microsoft puts out next. I can’t believe I’m saying this: but I love Windows 10, and I think Microsoft is doing a great job. I just wrote that sentence, and I’m not being even remotely sarcastic. What is the world coming to?

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Microsoft releases Windows Phone 10. If I can figure out a way to sync my Google Calendar, Drive, and Gmail with Windows’ various apps and services, I might jump over to all of Microsoft’s platforms. I think I’m losing my mind, you guys.

[Windows Insider Blog]

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