Microsoft releases mobile, desktop beta builds of Windows 10, but one's worth skipping

Microsoft also begins aggressively soliciting feedback from Insider Program users.

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Microsoft released not one, but two Insider beta builds of Windows 10 on Wednesday, fixing bugs in both the desktop and mobile versions. Only one, however, looks like it’s worth the effort.

Microsoft Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14271 and Mobile Build 14267.1004 are both available to users in the Fast Ring on both platforms. It's the first time Microsoft has released two simultaneous beta builds on the same day. 

Both builds fix bugs introduced by earlier versions. Be wary, however: The desktop build fixes largely aesthetic issues, while introducing some fairly major new bugs. Microsoft’s new mobile build, however, is much more worthwhile: Microsoft fixed the visual voicemail issue from an earlier build, and has added back the useful “history” feature in the People contacts app.

Microsoft also says it will begin more aggressively seeking feedback beginning with Build 14271. Users will automatically be asked for feedback about a particular experience or build—and you won’t be able to opt out unless you roll back to the November update or completely opt out of the Insider Program. That will also apply to the Mobile Insider track for smartphones, once that platform reaches the Build 14271 threshold.

Why this matters: In its blog post announcing the new builds, Microsoft explains that feedback is the whole point of the Insider Program—if you’re not providing input and reporting bugs, Microsoft isn’t getting any value from supplying a beta build to you. “While we don’t require Windows Insiders to answer these questions, we do hope they take the time to answer them so that we can better improve Windows for our customers,” writes Gabe Aul, VP of the engineering systems team.

You might want to avoid Build 14271 for desktop

As always, opting into new builds introduces new bugs, and fixes others. In this case, most of the bugs that the build fixes are cosmetic: an issue where the window borders on apps change color to black, for example, or the taskbar unexpectedly appearing in a full-screen PowerPoint app. Meatier fixes include an issue where some Win32 apps weren’t showing up on the Start menu, and fast user switching issues with picture passwords.

The known issues that the new build introduces, however, include problems where a PC may freeze or issue a Blue Screen of Death when woken from hibernation. And if you use a Kaspersky antivirus product, it may not work with the new software. You can disable hibernation to solve the first issue and use Windows Defender as a workaround for the second, but that’s up to you.

Microsoft’s new Mobile build, on the other hand, is worth downloading if you have one of the supported phones: the Microsoft Lumia 950, 950 XL, 650, and 550; the Xiaomi Mi4; and now the Alcatel ONETOUCH Fierce XL. Not only does the build fix the bug that prevented visual voicemail from working, but it adds visual voicemail support for dual-SIM devices like the Lumia 950XL. It also adds back the history feature on the People app, allowing you to see previous interactions with your friends and contacts. Microsoft also fixed a USB charging issue with the Lumia 550.

There are a few drawbacks: If you use a Lumia 950XL with the Continuum Display Dock, the trackpad experience suffers a bit. Windows phones also have some issues connecting to wireless displays, Microsoft said.

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