As seen last week, we've already covered three leaked builds of Windows 8.1: build 9364 which was unleashed back in March, and the more recent build 9369 and build 9374. The latest "leak" is build 9385 and I'm still getting a "we don’t comment on/around rumors and speculation as a rule of thumb" comment from the Redmond company. Seriously, folks, the cat is out of the bag already.
Images of build 9385 appeared on Friday, and breaks away from the intervals of five pattern seen with the prior releases. This build was reportedly being distributed to Partners of the Microsoft Partner Network just a week prior to the leaked screens, and compiled on April 15. One screenshot shows the downloader grabbing the 3.61 GB ISO from an unnamed source.
As of Tuesday, the ISO reportedly still hasn't shown up on file sharing websites. However a fresh batch of screenshots has appeared, hinting at better f12 developer tools for Internet Explorer 11 including an entirely new interface for a variety of options like debugging.
Previously in build 9374, a "Kiosk" mode was uncovered that allows the device user profile to be locked down to a single app – this is now called "Assigned Access". Another change in the new build is app settings that allow users to choose an app that can show alarms on the lock screen, meaning there's a good chance app-specific notifications and alarms will flash on a locked device similar to the way messages surface on Apple's iOS. So far existing Windows 8 apps do not support this feature.
What still hasn't made an obvious appearance, despite recent reports, is the revamped Start button for desktop users that only leads to the Start screen, and the boot to desktop mode. Microsoft is reportedly still working on that, and could be in place by the time the Redmond company supposedly launches the Public Preview during BUILD 2013 in June.
As previously stated, Windows "Blue" isn't specifically tied to Windows 8.1, but is the codename used for Microsoft's new consumer-based annual update model spanning Windows RT, Windows Server, Windows Phone, Windows 8 Pro and likely Xbox. The blanket update is expected to begin this fall, and for desktop users, may initially cost $40 as was the upgrade to Windows 8 in the same timeframe during 2012.
This is the fourth Windows 8.1 leak since March, and shows that either Microsoft and its partners have become sloppy in keeping the code secure, that OEMs are slipping builds to show that progress to improve the platform is being made, or that Microsoft itself is letting builds sneak out on purpose to keep an interest in Windows 8 in check. Given the industry and retail response to the current version of Windows 8, the latter option seems highly possible (aka speculation).