Microsoft’s latest Windows Insider build 14965 is showing a “virtual touchpad” feature that could replace the mouse—or in any case, make life easier for Windows tablet users. It puts a touchpad on your tablet screen, so you can use that instead of a mouse whenever you connect your device to a larger display.
Features that pop up in builds don’t always make it to final versions, of course, but this feature is intriguing. From the sounds of it, first-time setup is fairly easy. When a tablet, such as the Surface Pro 4, is connected to an external display, open the Action Center and tap on the Project Quick Action tile. This will extend the Windows desktop to the external display. Next, long-press the taskbar on your tablet. When it appears select Show touchpad button.
Now the touchpad icon will show up in the notification area on the far right of the taskbar. This is the same area were the Action Center icon is, as well as the Pen Workspace icon. Now all you do is tap the virtual touchpad icon and it appears on your tablet screen, ready to go.
Microsoft also lets you adjust the sensitivity of the virtual touchpad, just as you would with a real one. When the touchpad is open, go to Start > Settings > Devices > Touchpad to make adjustments.
The touchpad was the big change for this build, but you’ll also see a few other, minor improvements. The Sticky Notes Windows Store app has some new features for international users that U.S. users already have. However, Microsoft did say it’s improved text input for keyboard users.
Microsoft delighted power users when it added an address bar to the registry editor with Insider Preview build 14942 in early October. Now Microsoft is building on that addition by adding the CTRL + L keyboard shortcut to highlight the editor’s address bar. You could already do this by using the shortcut Alt + D, but CTRL + L is just as (if not more) popular among users.
The impact on you at home: It’ll be a while yet until we see any of these features in the mainstream build of Windows 10, as the Creators Update isn’t due out until early next year. For those jumping into preview builds to get all the great new features now, build 14965 has an annoying little bug that shows just how problematic these preview versions of Windows can be. If you double-click on an Excel file in File Explorer in build 14965, it fails to open. The workaround is to open files from within Microsoft Excel.