Microsoft is morphing Windows 10 right in front of our eyes.
Last week, Microsoft released Build 9860, the first new version of Windows 10 Technical Preview (TP). This new build is said to contain over 7,000 improvements and fixes, most of them under the hood. Alas, Microsoft only highlighted three. We’ll show you a few more, including at least two that you can look forward to being activated in a future build.
What’s New In Build 9860?
See Notifications Listed In Action Center
The Action Center, à la Windows Phone, addresses a Windows 8 annoyance: Toast notifications would briefly pop up, then disappear into Nirvana, causing the user to miss what happened or having to track down the respective app. What we’re seeing in Build 9860 is a basic Action Center version, which will hopefully be updated with more useful features.
As in Windows 8, new notifications briefly pop up in the top right of the desktop.
They are subsequently listed in the Action Center. For now, you’ll spot a new Notifications icon in the respective area of the Taskbar.
Left-clicking the note icon launches a simplistic window with a list of notifications. Clicking a notification will clear it. You can Clear All notifications via the respective X icon in the top right. With a right-click on the icon you can hide notifications for up to 8 hours. And that’s all there is to it right now.
To change how you receive notifications, open PC settings [press Windows key and search for settings or press Windows key + I and select Change PC settings] and navigate to > Search and apps > Notifications. Here you can turn off notification sounds, define Quiet hours, and select for which apps you’d like to see notifications.
Move Apps Between Multiple Monitors
You can now move apps between multiple monitors using a newly activated keyboard shortcut. This isn’t a novel shortcut; it’s been around for a while, it just wasn’t available in Windows 10 TP up until now. To move the active app window to your second screen, press Windows key + SHIFT and use the left / right arrow keys. This shortcut won’t do anything on a single monitor setup.
By the way, Microsoft accidentally posted this shortcut as Windows key + CTRL + left / right arrow keys, which will let you move between multiple virtual desktops. To add to the confusion, they also linked to virtual desktop shortcuts. Interestingly, the Windows key + left / right / top / down arrow keys shortcut, which used to snap the active window to the respective position in Build 9841, is non-functional in the new Build.
Enjoy Or Disable New Window Animations
Build 9860 comes with new animations for opening and closing windows. That’s a change I would have missed, had I not seen it mentioned elsewhere. Turning off fancy animations can improve performance.
To turn off the new animations, press the Windows key, type System, select the respective Control Panel item, and click Advanced system settings. Under Performance click Settings… In the Visual Effects tab uncheck the second item from the top, Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing, and click OK to save your changes.
Create Desktop Shortcuts For Modern Apps
You could previously create desktop shortcuts for modern apps that came pre-installed with Windows. Now this functionality is extended to all Store apps. To create a desktop shortcut, find the respective app in Start or under All Apps and drag it to the desktop.
Discover New Apps & Features
Do some nosing around under All Apps and you’ll discover Docking Controller, which is an app that does absolutely nothing right now. Further down in the list is a curious app called zPC Settings (right). The menu entries are very different from the main PC Settings app (left). It looks like several Control Panel items are moving into this modern app.
Many of the zPC Settings sub-menus are empty; items marked with a * are pending. For example under Personalization, we see Themes, Background, Colors, and Sounds listed but dead, while Lock screen and Sync settings are fully functional.
DataSense, a feature taken from Windows Phone, will manage your data usage on different networks. Right now it appears to be restricted to devices that directly connect to a mobile network. Once it is active, you will be able to restrict background data and show total data usage for your device.
To get an impression, open PC settings [press Windows key and search for settings or press Windows key + I and select Change PC settings] and navigate to DataSense. Note how the date shows 09 for September, when it should show 10 for October.
As Windows gears up to become a truly mobile operating system, better battery management tools are mandatory. Battery Saver is another feature adopted from Windows Phone, designed to conserve battery “by limiting background activity and adjusting hardware settings”. Much like the Action Center and DataSense, it’s very basic at this point; worse, it can’t be used, yet.
To have a look at Battery Saver, go to PC settings [press Windows key and search for settings or press Windows key + I and select Change PC settings] and navigate to Battery Saver.
You may think that Battery Saver is set to turn on automatically when the battery gets below a certain percentage, but that percentage appears to be zero and cannot be changed. You can turn Battery Saver on manually, but the button will default back to the Off position when you leave the settings page. At this point, the Battery Saver feature is nonfunctional.
How To Install The New Windows 10 Build?
Meanwhile, the new build should have been rolled out to all users of the Technical Preview. If you have not automatically received Build 9860 yet, you might be on a metered network. Or maybe your system still needs to complete the installation of important or critical updates; check Windows Update and reboot if necessary. Note that while a faulty Windows Update can be removed, you cannot downgrade from a new build version.
To manually initiate the update, go to PC settings [press Windows key and search for settings or press Windows key + I and select Change PC settings], navigate to > Update and recovery > Preview builds, and click Check now. Once you installed Build 9860, you can also change how quickly you will receive future builds; the default is Slow.
The Preview can be up to 2.74GB in size and will take longer than normal to install, with a couple of maintenance processes running in the back after the installation completed.
Note that the new build comes with several known issues, which Microsoft promised to fix until the final release. These include changes to joining a WiFi network, removal of items from the Start menu, issues with sleep and wake up, broken system games, and blue screens when undocking from a dual external monitor setup. If you identify additional bugs, please report them via Windows Feedback or the Technical Preview forum.
What Is On Your Wish List For The Next Build?
What we see with this update, is that Microsoft is slowly integrating Windows Phone features into Windows 10. The aim is to turn Windows into a desktop to mobile chameleon of an operating system. We also found hints that Control Panel items are moved into modern apps. In a way, Microsoft is allowing us to watch as they are morphing Windows 10 from a close Windows 8 clone into something novel.
If you’ve been using Windows 10 TP, you’ve certainly come across a few things that could be improved. Did Microsoft address any of them with this upgrade? What else remains on your wish list? And have you come across any bugs in Build 9860?