On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled the upcoming changes to Windows 10. They said that a new build, including many of the announced features (but not everything) would be available within a week. Well, a mere two days later the build is now available for download. In order to gain access to the preview builds, you have to join the Windows Insider program, which has no cost. In the one day after the event, Gabriel Aul tweeted that 173,624 people had joined the program, which had over 1.7 million members just the day before.

For those already on the Technical Preview, both the Windows 10 Fast and Slow rings have access to this new build, numbered 9926. Simply go to Settings, Update and Recovery, and choose the Preview Build tab to force a check. If you have not tried it out, but want to, of course first backup your PC before starting, and then head over to http://insider.windows.com/ to get access to the automated install, or the ISO files. Of note to people upgrading either from Windows 7, 8, or previous builds of 10, this is an in-place upgrade which should keep your software and settings intact, but does require a re-provisioning of your account. As a final warning, this is pre-release software, so if you are unsure whether you should be running it, the easy answer is that you likely should skip it.

Some of the new features coming in this build are fairly significant, with the first obvious one being an updated Start Menu. It can now be expanded to a full screen experience, just like any app. It also has a scrollable list of live tiles, which can be customized as you prefer.

Cortana is coming to the desktop in this build as well, although it is limited to the USA and English at the moment.

Continuum is now available, which is the automated method of switching a device to touch mode and back, and it can be accessed through the updated Action Center as well, which now includes toggles for various modes. The settings app is also new, and blends the Windows 8 style settings with the traditional control panel.

There is now a switch in the action center to make it easier to connect to Bluetooth and Miracast devices, to project audio or video wirelessly.

On the app side, there is a new Windows Store beta, with a much cleaner look and feel, as well as the new Photos map which was demoed on Wednesday. Maps is also updated to the demonstrated build, and the much revamped Xbox app is also available.

There is a lot of other changes as well, such as the ability to choose which folder is the default when opening File Explorer, there have been Snap Assist changes, more languages are supported, and even Windows Updates can be scheduled to install at specific times with a radio button.

If you do upgrade to this build, be sure to check Windows Update as well. There are a couple of patches which fix known issues.

I am installing right now, and we will go over more of the changes in a future post.

Source: Windows Blog

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  • Cygni - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    microsoft doesnt exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to updates not breaking things
  • SilthDraeth - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    On the contrary, the record is pretty damn good. Considering the number of OS they support, and update. I can understand corporate, and military environments, since there are some often non standard things going on, and so updates must pass further in house validation. But for the majority of Windows users, you are better served turning on automatic update, then not being stupid and unplugging your computer, or any other hard shutdown method while they install.
  • Samus - Saturday, January 24, 2015 - link

    You're concerned about updates breaking things while running a beta OS?

  • piiman - Saturday, January 24, 2015 - link

    As part of the program they are making you take them. Its a test OS!
  • Cygni - Saturday, January 24, 2015 - link

  • GuardianAngel470 - Sunday, January 25, 2015 - link

    While I agree for the most part, I have had instances where a windows update broke something. In one particular series of games, the STALKER franchise, there was an update pushed out a while back that essentially broke DirectX 10 in that franchise.

    It can happen and, while it's true that it was probably the fault of the developer of whatever software is affected, the only solution is removing the Windows update and preventing it from reinstalling.
  • 'nar - Monday, January 26, 2015 - link

    There was a Windows Update several years ago now that affected the CPU driver. HP had been using the same CPU driver on both their Intel and AMD system images. After the update and reboot, BSOD. And HP is not that specialized. It may have been 2% of total computers, but that is still quite a large number all failing at once. Just goes to show that a so-called rare circumstance can still be a pretty big problem.
  • HungryTurkey - Sunday, January 25, 2015 - link

    Most admins don't have a stellar track record of fixing the root causes of issues and they reghack a bandaid instead of ponying up the 250$ to talk to a Microsoft engineer. You shouldn't expect an update to work in 100% of cases of a 100% modifiable environment. The better you adhere to best practices and solid ITIL processes, the better your experience with microsoft updates will be. In the past 8 years, I have had one MS update bork things (a forefront update shortly after MS integrated the product into their lineup).
  • Chriz - Saturday, January 24, 2015 - link

    I did the gpedit thing last time too and set it to notify me but not download. I just like to see what the updates are before it installs them is all.
  • Cygni - Saturday, January 24, 2015 - link

    too logical

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