Microsoft has reinstated the Skip Ahead option to its Windows Insider Program to allow eager developers and enthusiasts to experience its next major release, 19H1, long before it's ready for the public. To accompany Skip Ahead's return to the program, the company also released Windows 10 Insider Preview Builds 17723 and 18204. The builds are currently the same; we expect them to diverge with future releases.
The flagship change made with Preview Builds 17723 and 18204 is the addition of what Microsoft calls the Mixed Reality Flashlight. This feature allows people using Windows Mixed Reality to peek into the real world via the Start menu, voice command, or button shortcut. You then see via a WMR headset's camera, with your viewpoint being changed via your controller. That way you don't have to leave VR to see your surroundings.
It's not hard to imagine this making life much easier for VR enthusiasts. Microsoft noted that right now it's hard to find a place to set down your controllers for a moment, look at someone next to you, or reach for something like a snack or keyboard without having to leave VR entirely. (We'd add "making sure you don't hit a wall" to the list, but maybe that's just because we're clumsy.) Now all those things should be a little easier.
Preview Builds 17723 and 18204 also bring some general improvements to various aspects of the operating system. Microsoft is adding support for new emoji arriving with Unicode 11, making it easier for business owners to turn Windows 10 PCs into kiosks, and improving how Windows 10 keeps track of time. It'll be easier to invoke the Game Bar, too, which might encourage more people to use its streaming and recording features.
The other changes arriving with Preview Builds 17723 and 18204 are pretty typical for early software releases. Microsoft has squashed a few bugs, tightened up the user experience, made a bunch of small changes that most people are unlikely to notice at first. You can find out more via Microsoft's blog post. Right now these builds were covered in the same blog post, but as Skip Ahead releases diverge, they'll get separate notes.
Microsoft also announced that its second RS5 Bug Bash, which asks developers and enthusiasts to help the company identify bugs with Redstone 5, will be held from July 27-August 5. This bash is open to members of the Slow ring of the Windows Insider Program as well as Fast ring and Skip Ahead members. A webcast about the program will be held on the company's Mixer streaming platform at 10am PT on August 1.