Next Windows 10 Preview Build Now Available for Some

Microsoft released a new Windows 10 preview for its "fast-ring" testers this week.

The new build 10041 version is getting delivered to Windows Insider program participants this week via the Windows Update service, but the fast-ring testers are getting it first. Fast-ring testers will have it in their hands in a time period that's less than 48 hours after reviews by Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, according to Gabriel Aul, general manager for the data and fundamentals team in the Microsoft Operating Systems Group.

Microsoft has two options for its Windows 10 testers. Testers can opt to get releases faster (with more software flaws) or slower (more stable builds). Most testers have chosen the slow-ring pace. Users can configure which test option they prefer from within the software.

Earlier this month, Microsoft noted that it is experimenting with the preview release pace of Windows 10. Possibly, testers could see more than one build per month, according to Aul. Microsoft is now targeting its Windows 10 product release for this summer. Windows 10, when released, will be a free upgrade option for consumers using Windows 7 and Windows 8.x versions, and even for software pirates, but not for enterprise users.

New Features
Microsoft released new features in this build, but it notably doesn't include the new Spartan browser. Microsoft had suggested it would be available in the next build. Here's the short list of the new features that are included:

  • Start Menu: you can now to drag apps to the Start Menu, which was a top request, Aul said
  • Virtual Desktops: You can drag a window to a Virtual Desktop pane, which Microsoft has also called the "Task View" pane (it used to require a right-button mouse click to do this)
  • Network icon flyout menu: clicking the network icon now provides a flyout menu for easier access to things like a list of wireless networks
  • Cortana on the desktop expansion: Microsoft's voice-enabled personal assistant now works for users in "China, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain," in addition to the United States
  • The photo rotation feature of the Photo app now supports OneDrive cloud-stored photos: previously, it just supported local storage. Also, the RAW photo file format is now supported by the app
  • Windows Feedback app improvements: the Insider Hub tracks the amount of user feedback provided as well as the number of up-votes that feedback has generated

Microsoft fixed some software flaws from previous builds. The Start Button should work. Search should work, even if the taskbar is located at the top or sides of the screen. A boot selection menu that pops up on reboots won't be there, unless the user actually has dual-booting set up on their machine. The Photo app should stop showing "persistent grey thumbnails."

Known Issues
This build includes plenty of "known issues." Here's a sampling:

  • The box for user name and password won't appear or won't accept input, preventing log-in. That's a big one. Aul suggested trying the Switch User button or rebooting the machine
  • The PC can get locked in the "out-of-box experience, "so don't lock your PC during OOBE," Aul said
  • Users can get "frequent prompts to restart to install updates," something that Aul said can be "ignored safely"
  • Some apps in the Windows Store beta version will fail to install
  • Microsoft's Mail, Calendar and People apps included with the operating system could be broken, so Aul suggested running some PowerShell commands to get them working
  • The Tablet Mode notification is switched off because of problems
  • Using the Narrator can cause problems with accessing the touch keyboard at the log-in screen, and Narrator may not work with third-party screen readers

Build 10041 is only available if a tester had Windows 10 already installed on a machine, Aul noted.

Slow-ring testers may get ISO releases in future build releases. However, those testers electing the fast-ring pace will only be able to get the OS via direct downloads, Aul said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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