As promised, I will be delivering video previews of new Windows 10 build and features as they are revealed/released. I will also mention at this time that although the build seems fairly stable for the most part, I still do not recommend running this on a primary machine. This is still Alpha software and although Microsoft has been very good at squashing bugs in Windows 10, you should still be wary of using it in its current status.
Also keep in mind that a lot of the UI is still very rough. For instance, hitting the WiFi button at the bottom of your screen now pops up the PC Settings window instead of a pop-up from the side. But Microsoft has owned up to this and is stating that these early builds are for enabling basic functionality. UI updates and performance improvements will come later down the road.
That said, if you want to download the Windows 10 Technical Preview and still haven’t yet, go to http://preview.windows.com, sign up for the tech preview with a Microsoft account, and then download in the install.
New Way to Deliver Previews
If you already have Windows 10 and are trying to figure out how to get the new build, first you’ll want to run Windows update. There will be a quick update that pops up that enables a new feature in the modern PC Settings version of Windows update. Once that small update is installed and you’ve restarted, you’ll want to head on over to your modern PC Settings, to Update and Recovery, and then you’ll see the Preview Build option now available. You can then feel free to check for the update now and install it. I clocked the install as taking about an hour.
Don’t worry, I do go over that process in the video, in case you’re a bit confused. The best way to learn about these changes are to view the below video. I go over each change fairly in depth with a bit of analysis thrown in.
However, for those who don’t want to watch a 44 minute video, here’s a basic rundown of the changes made in Build 9860.
I know this is a weird one to start with, but I think it’s the best feature of this update. If you’ve downloaded a video on the internet before, you’ve run into those stupid .MKV files. It’s an open source format that everyone uses for downloaded videos or torrents because it’s easy and free to compile. That’s fine. Except that you have to install VLC to run it, which simply doesn’t like streaming to your TV or Xbox as much as Windows Media Player does.
Well, no longer. MKV is now supported by Windows Media Player. Sort of. The file format will not automatically be associated with Windows Media Player, but you can select the file, tell it to open with Windows Media Player, and after it bitches about it for a sec, it will eventually play it. Yeah, it’s kind of rough support, but Windows 10 is still in an Alpha stage afterall. I just love the fact that I don’t have to convert videos to get them to play how I want them to. Yay!
The notification center has come from Windows Phone to Windows proper. Interestingly, it’s being called the Notifications and Action Center, even though the Action Center still exists separately. I’d imagine that the Action center (where Windows bitches at your for not updating your Antivirus software) will eventually get thrown into this Notification center.
The notification center is pretty basic right now. It does appear to pull notifications from modern apps and Microsoft apps in the same way that they were pulled for populating live tiles, meaning you’ll be able to control which apps give you notifications through the Notifications options in the PC Settings app (modern app).
This isn’t really a feature, but it’s something that apparently a lot of people asked for. People wanted animations to trigger when a window was opened, closed, and minimized. As a result, Microsoft threw in a little bouncy pop up and slide down animation, which I demonstrate in the video below.
Furthermore, people wanted a transition animation for when you switch from virtual desktop to virtual desktop. I do happen to agree with this animation, as it can sometimes be unclear whether you’ve switched desktops or not. So when you’re Ctrl+Win+Left or Right arrowing through your desktops, you’ll get a very MacOS like animation in which the desired desktop slides the current desktop out of the way.
If you dislike both of these animations, you can remove them. Simply right click on your Start Button, select System.
Then click on Advanced System Settings to the left
Then select Performance settings
And finally disable “Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
Unfortunately, this option controls both the window animations AND the desktop animations, so you have to choose one way or the other. However, this option is the same option that currently exists in Windows 8, so hopefully they will make some changes and separate this out later.
Another feature coming from Windows Phone, DataSense is basically a way to manage and control your computer’s data use. This feature is designed for machines that utilize a built in 3G or 4G data connection, and it enables users of such devices to see how much data they’ve used, how much they’ve got left, and also to monitor the internet usage of apps on their PC.
It might be fairly obvious from the screenshot above, but I haven’t seen that this feature actually works yet. Currently it shows I’ve use 666 MB of WiFi data and the only thing that shows up in the “usage” section is the System Settings, which hasn’t used any web connection. So clearly, there’s some work that needs to be done here, but it’s cool to see that this Windows Phone feature is coming to Windows 10.
Most people won’t care about those features, but they might care about seeing what apps and programs are actively using an internet connection (WiFi). I personally am interested to see if we will be able to restrict internet access on a per app level. Currently, the features of this app are pretty minimal, but the opportunity is exciting.
This is another feature that got thrown into the build, but currently doesn’t work yet, unfortunately. However, it does look like it’s getting ripped from Windows Phone, which is exciting, because Windows Phone’s Battery Saving app is excellent. Currently, all the app has is an On/Off button that doesn’t do anything, but when it works, it should conserve battery life by telling apps to stop checking for updates constantly and “adjusting hardware settings.” A greyed out option will eventually allow you to enable battery saver mode at a particular threshold.
However, I’m more excited about the opportunity for more. Windows Phone’s implementation of the app gives you information about how much battery life is drained by particular apps. It also allows you to allow or prevent apps from running in the background. It would be awesome to see this implemented in Windows 10.
A Small But Interesting Update
Most of the features of this update come from Windows Phone, which seems to further concrete the fact that all these OSes will be combined into one. The fact that they added these animations also indicates that they are absolutely listening to feedback. But it’s certainly nice that we have the ability to remove them as necessary.
All in all, despite not seeing a lot of these features fully in action yet, this OS is turning out to be a proper awesome product with each successive build. While this was a fairly sudden update to build 9841, I wouldn’t expect further updates to come so rapidly. But we’ll see. As updates pop up, I’ll certainly be letting you know about them.