Windows 10 has been building up slowly to a spectacular launch later this year, and the enthusiasm of transparency which Microsoft has demonstrated is no joke.
The same can be said for the eager feedback which insiders are submitting to Microsoft. With the company not releasing official preview builds for 2 months, people were so on edge that an unofficial copy, build 10036, leaked to online sites early this week. This was by no means stable and came from an internal preview build Microsoft sent to closer test partners.
The wait is, however, over. Perhaps as a clear sign of “we heard your desires”, Microsoft is pushing the latest developer preview build, 10041, to all insiders in the fast ring running build 9926. You can change whether you’re in the “slow” or “fast” rings through the advanced settings of Windows Update.
For one, Microsoft is promising more frequent builds to Insiders. This means that you should receive them at least once per month, according to Gabe Aul, director of the Windows Fundementals team which tracks user feedback.
On the Windows Blog, Aul also posted a lengthy list of changes. While none of these are earth-shattering, some are notable: The new start screen is now transparent, windows can be dragged into virtual desktops with the mouse, and cortana is now available in China, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, as well as the United Kingdom. Choosing wi-fi networks is now also possible through a brand new “connect to a network” fly-out window. This is accessible with NVDA of course, as well as Narrator. In addition, there’s a new file open-with dialog, allowing you to pick an application when opening an unknown filetype. This redesigned dialog is significant as Microsoft moves away from calling running programs on Windows to “Apps”. While it adds no enhancement to what the old dialog could do, it brings more parts of Windows into the modern age.
A known issue listed in the blog post is worth noting.
• There are several accessibility issues in this build, which may make it difficult to use with Narrator or 3rd party screen readers. Additionally there is an issue where using a Lens after enabling Magnifier may cause the screen to be unusable.
Indeed, if using a screen reader, beware that you can no longer tab around the taskbar, notification tray, and desktop. Focus no longer wraps around as you tab, and there’s an odd read-only textbox which informs you to “search the web and Windows” as well as to use Cortana. Yes, she really now has a home in Windows.
As we ramp up to the Launch of Windows 10, expect there to be more excitement. In addition to being free for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users for the first year, Windows 10 is one of the first versions of Windows built heavily on customer’s feedback through the Insider program. As such, Microsoft believes it to become a watershed moment in Windows’ history.