This week, Microsoft released a new version of its Windows 10 Technical Preview: Build 9860. The company’s Gabe Aul updated the Blogging Windows site to announce its release, reporting that it’s a huge update, with around 7,000 improvements and fixes. He said many of these changes will be “invisible” while others will be more apparent, such as the new Notifications window.
Those using Windows 10 Technical Preview 9841 who don’t want to wait for Windows Update to grab the latest build can go into “PC Settings,” then “Update and recovery,” and then “Preview builds.” Here you can hit the “Check Now” button and download the update. The file size is around 2 GB to 2.74 GB, depending on the PC’s configuration and language.
The first thing users will notice is the Action Center icon sitting in the system clock area. While mine is blank at the moment, this area will eventually be filled with notifications from the system and installed apps. Right now, this feature provides only the basic notifications, such as Facebook posts, emails, Skype messages and so on. Eventually it will have Quick Actions and a Cleaner UI.
The new build also comes with a Battery Saver feature. This build conserves battery life by adjusting the hardware settings to limit the background activity. Naturally, this is a great feature for laptops and tablets sporting the new Windows 10 build. Users can opt to have this mode turned on automatically or do it manually. Once it’s turned on, an icon will appear next to the battery icon in the system tray.
Also new to PC settings is DataSense. This area shows the user how much data is consumed by the machine. In my case, I’ve only used 624 MB of data via Wi-Fi since the 9860 update was installed; the cellular portion shows that no data has been used. Users can set DataSense to restrict background data, to restrict background data when roaming, and to show the total data usage for the device.
This new preview build comes with new animations, especially when the user switches virtual desktops, providing a smooth transition between each. There’s also something different going on when minimizing and maximizing apps and windows: they seem to pop open when maximized rather than sliding into the larger screen on the desktop. Honestly, these animations give Windows 10 some character.
Still, users who can’t stand the new animations can go into “System,” “Advanced system settings,” and hit the Settings button under “Performance”. This list includes animations in the taskbar, animated controls and elements inside windows, the ability to show shadows under windows, and loads more.
The new build also brings new shortcuts to the preview table. To move from one virtual desktop to another, simply use WIN + CTRL + LEFT or RIGHT. To close the current virtual desktop, press WIN + CTRL + F4. Want to create a new virtual desktop? Hit WIN + CTRL + D. Several additional new shortcuts can be accessed here.
With the new update, the Preview Builds section in PC Settings allows users to decide if they want a new build each time one is released (Fast), or wait until a stable, larger preview is provided for testing (Slow). The faster setting means possibly more bugs, according to Microsoft.
Finally, I noticed that the Start Menu is now wider, stretching across the bottom of the screen and displaying most of my installed Modern UI apps. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep this on, as I’m still having weird text input issues with the Start Menu enabled (can’t type in Word, address bars). Still, I hope this super-wide Start Menu isn’t permanent… the thin Start Menu with just a few live tiles looked better.
So there you go: a brief summary of what Build 9860 brings to Windows 10. Microsoft still insists that you shouldn’t have this build installed on your main machine. However, outside of the weird text input problem I have with the Start Menu enabled, I have yet to come across any additional bugs or broken features.