Microsoft released a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview today. You can download it, if you’re in the Technical Preview Fast Ring, by checking Windows Updates. Microsoft announced the availability of the new build this afternoon and highlighted some of the fixes and known issues. The biggest component of this build is Project Spartan, the browser that will allow Microsoft to leave the IE legacy behind and compete with Chrome and Firefox with the latest web standards.
When you launch the Project Spartan application, it will open up a fairly basic browser, seemingly taking a hint from mobile browsers. The home page is MSN by default, which is similar to Internet Explorer. Another tab will then open and take you to meetprojectspartan.com to introduce some of the features of the Project Spartan browser. Microsoft’s new browser allows making annotations on a web page with a pen or a highlighter. The pen can be changed to a different thickness or color in your annotations which are then saved locally.
In my experience the pen worked ok and the highlighter was fine but the eraser was buggy and just continued to mark up the page with the previous tool. The feedback even asked me why I didn’t change color or pen thickness after my first use of the new tools.
Details of Project Spartan (I hope they change that name…) were also posted in two separate blog posts today, one for the consumer details and another for the technical details. Project Spartan brings:
- Cortana to add more intellect to your web browsing experience
- Annotations and web capturing
- Distraction-free Reading View and Reading List to access content later
- A new rendering engine
The Windows Build 10049 retains Cortana in the taskbar and a tile on the Start Screen, along with her presence in Project Spartan. When you first use Cortana, you are given the option to allow her access to your Store, location, calendar, contacts, browsing, and app usage.
The Start Menu continues on its recent track that simply feels like the Windows 8.1 Start Screen reshaped. I really liked the Start Menu in Build 9841 with its Windows 7 feel but Microsoft appears to be moving further away from that with its addition of Cortana to the Start Menu.
One of the most obvious changes with Windows 10 besides the Start Screen/Start Menu has been the icon set. Lots of things have gotten new looks and it feels like “change for the sake of change”. Even worse, look at the Recycle Bin. In my opinion, it seems comically flat like it was drawn as a placeholder for a future icon. The others seen for Frequent folders and the side of the File Explorer are also quite an update.
The build features in 10048 focused on Project Spartan. It is being released to the Fast Ring today and the slow ring later on unless other issues are detected. Updated ISO files one be released until after the Slow ring release.
Windows 10 makes me nervous because I have to work with and push my organization to adopt the new operating system. There are a lot of places where Microsoft seems to take two steps forward and one step back between builds. The Windows Feedback site is also quite a joke as simple, straight-forward recommendations will get a few votes while far-out, ludicrous concept approaches drown out the practical advice such as “make mandatory profiles easy to use in Windows 10”. How have your early impressions of Windows 10 been?