Now that I have finally updated all of my PCs to the latest Windows Technical Preview version, I can take a quick step back and see what we have here. In short, nothing profound, but a couple of nice functional additions, or more realistically, the start of a couple of nice functional additions. As Microsoft promised, the preview is coming in hot, and this build is not polished in any way.
That said, I would caution people testing the preview—or just reading about it—not to put too much into minor differences between builds. As Microsoft's Gabe Aul noted in the blog post announcing this first update, things are fluid. Some things from the initial preview build are different, or even broken, in this build. But that doesn't always indicate that Microsoft is on a certain path. Don't sweat the small stuff.
With that in mind, there is a lot of small stuff.
A different upgrade
You'll notice that this isn't a normal upgrade process for whatever reason—it almost appears to work like a migration—and that some things have been reset to their defaults. Like the default browser selection, or the compatibility view settings in IE. I've noticed that Notepad, which I configure in a certain way, is back to defaults as well. That kind of thing.
By the way, after you're up and running with the new build, be sure to navigate to PC Settings, Update and Recovery, Windows Update and check for updates. Then, install the update that you'll find there. It will improve the reliability and stability of the system. (You'll need to reboot. It's worth it.)
There are lots of superfluous animations in this build that are already getting annoying. Windows pop-up open jarringly and then they appear to swoop down to the taskbar when you minimize them, shades of Mac OS X circa a decade ago. Blech.
Looking at the build, a number of new and/or improved features are immediately obvious, and I've added them to my list—which I'll use as a guide of sorts in writing Windows 10 Field Guide—in Windows Technical Preview Feature Focus. These include:
Windows 10's notification center provides and collects system and app notifications, and in future builds it will be extended with features like Quick Actions and Cleaner. You access Action Center by clicking the Action Center icon in the system notification area.
One of many new Windows 10 features that debuted first in Windows Phone, Battery Saver (currently misspelled as BatterySaver in the most recent build) will limit background data transfer activity and adjust hardware settings to optimize battery life when enabled. It can be turned on manually or can be enabled automatically when battery life hits a certain level.
Another feature that debuted on Windows Phone, Data Sense (misspelled as DataSense in the current build) helps monitor your data usage, which can be particularly useful for those using a metered cellular data connection.
This curious feature lets you look for and then download and install new Windows Technical Preview builds. I assume it will only be available during the preview, but you can also use this feature to determine how quickly you get new features and builds: Slow (the default) or Fast (as soon as possible).
Windows Phone influences
One thing that is very clear to me, since I'm one of the few people using this platform, is how much of this is influenced by—sorry, comes directly from—Windows Phone. There's even a "Z" app, which Microsoft uses to test system-level functionality on Windows Phone. If you're running the new build, search for "zPC Settings" and you can run an alternative version of PC Settings in which many Control Panel-type settings finally make their way to the Modern environment.
The new stuff has a "*" next to it. So, for example, we can see Speech, Storage Sense, Windows Defender and other new items listed in this settings app. But none have actual user interfaces, yet. But here's a few features I'll likely need to add to the Feature Focus article the next time around: Storage Sense, Mobile Hotspot and (gasp) Dialup.
One thing I've been asked a few times is whether Microsoft will make an ISO of this build available. The answer from Gabe Aul is no, though I'm now curious what happens if you install the preview from the web today: Do you get the original build or the new build? (Probably the former.) I will say that the install process is not exactly transparent—you really have no indication about the progress, especially at the beginning—but then Microsoft actually warned about that up front too.
I'll need to use the new build for longer to see whether anything else has changed. But so far it seems to work fine, and none of my applications have come up missing in action or anything.