Windows 10 Technical Preview is a work in progress, and Microsoft began sending Build 9860 to enthusiasts and developers on Tuesday. The new code’s estimated 7,000 changes include a much-anticipated notifications function, as part of a new Action Center.
Users who’ve already downloaded the Windows 10 Technical Preview may check for new preview builds as part of the “Update and Recovery” option. The download totals between 2GB and 2.74GB, depending on CPU architecture and language, Microsoft said.
After installing, your PC will reboot and begin the provisioning process again, asking you for your Microsoft account. In other words, don’t have anything stored on that PC or partition that you’re not prepared to lose.
“Sometimes they’ll be more frequent and sometimes there will be longer gaps, but they will always be chock full of changes and improvements, as well as some bugs and things that are not quite done,” Gabriel Aul, the engineering general manager for the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, wrote of the new builds. “As we’ve said, we’re sharing stuff early and moving quickly to do so. In fact, the build that we’re rolling out today is something that we ourselves only got a little over a week ago!”
Of the 7,000 or so changes to the code between the older 9481 build and the new version, some of them are in response to suggestions made by users as part of the Windows Insider Program.
The most important addition is notifications, which had been rumored to be an eventual part of Windows 10. In Windows 10, notifications will be part of the Action Center, Aul said, which will be accessible from an icon in the lower right corner of the taskbar, next to the date and time.
“You’ll see notifications from the system and apps—from new emails and invites to IMs, Facebook posts and more—all in one place, so you don’t miss a thing,” Aul wrote. Quick actions and a cleaner user interface will come later, he said.
After downloading the update, I—along with others online—also noticed two new additions have been ported over from Windows Phone: Battery Saver and Data Sense.
Of the two, Battery Saver seems far more useful, given that notebooks ship with a battery, but not a data connection—although that could be changing. Like Windows Phone, there are apparently provisions built in to prevent your tablet or notebook from syncing data in the background when the battery is low. Although there aren’t any additional settings to configure, it presumably dims the display and performs other power-saving functions.
DataSense does two things: displays your data consumption over Wi-Fi and cellular connections, and allows you to limit it as well. Right now, it’s most useful to determine how much data you’ve consumed.
The new build also adds a command to move apps quickly from one monitor to another: Windows-Shift-[a cursor key], adding to the keyboard shortcuts already in place. Microsoft also added an animation to indicate when a user is switching virtual desktops.
If these aren’t the features you want to see added, vote! Over 250,000 pieces of feedback have been sent to Microsoft via the Windows Feedback tool, 25,381 community forum posts, and 641 suggestions in the Windows Suggestion Box, Aul said. The latter category is where users have been busy suggesting new features for Windows 10.
Steps forward, and back
The new build also allows users to be even more adventurous. (Follow our installation guide to mitigate your Windows 10 risk.) A new option in the “Preview Builds” menu of the “Update and Recovery” tab allows users to select either a “slow” or “fast” circle—to receive code either slowly, after the community tests it, or almost immediately. Naturally, the “fast” circle will also put users on the fast track to additional bugs. The build that Microsoft deployed today was sent to its own internal “Canary” team about 1.5 weeks ago, Aul wrote.
That doesn’t mean the new build represents a total improvement. In some cases, the UI of the technical preview went “backward” temporarily while Microsoft focused on how things work, not how they look: Internet Explorer glyphs may look garbled, and items on the Start menu might disappear, for example. Some machines may not sleep properly, and Wi-Fi functionality also regressed. That’s to be expected with a new build, Aul said.
Still, adding notifications could mean that other rumored features are on their way, too. Here are our first impressions of the first build of Windows 10; feel free to add yours, below.
Updated at 3:50 PM with additional details of DataSense and Battery Saver, two new features Microsoft added in the build.