Well ask and you shall receive.
Windows insiders became quite vocal during the 54 day drought of no new Windows 10 Technical Preview builds between 23 January and 18 March. In return Microsoft listened and said they were reevaluating how they use the Fast Ring for updated builds and that effort showed up yesterday afternoon.
On a day that is generally not used to release new builds into the wild Microsoft surprised us all by releasing build 10049 of Windows 10 just 12 days after we initially received build 10041 in the Fast Ring.
If this is the new and improved Fast Ring pace then I am sure the over three million Windows Insiders are saying bring it on!
The big addition to the Windows 10 Technical Preview in this build is the introduction of Project Spartan in its first public appearance for Windows Insiders. Project Spartan is Microsoft’s new web browser that has been in development for some time now in Redmond and will be the standard across the Windows 10 ecosystem.
Last night I posted a big screenshot gallery of Project Spartan, 35 images in total, that walk you through the various dialogs, menus, Cortana integration and the Hub where you find Favorites, Reading List and History.
Now since this is the first appearance of Project Spartan it is expected to have some rough edges and unfinished areas so here is a quick run-down of those items:
- The Downloads management area is not turned on yet but a placeholder is there; still have to use IE11 for that if necessary. Project Spartan can do downloads in browser but there is no monitoring tools, pausing etc.
- There is no way to manage your Favorites in this current build but they can be added and deleted. They also display in alphabetical order and include the folders in the order instead of showing the folders at the top and then the favorited websites.
- Browsing History is not yet implemented but the place holder is there in the UI.
- When you select to print a web page the image does not fully render in the preview window.
- Cortana is very particular about what she can and cannot find through right click searches. Some common names can pull up the Cortana sidebar in Project Spartan immediately; if she is unable to find anything you get an Oops in the sidebar and get to try again.
- Not all sites can use Project Spartan’s Reading Mode as there is apparently something needed in the websites coding to allow that button to light up in the UI so you can invoke this mode.
- Same thing applies to restaurant sites as not all of them trigger Cortana to give you more information such as a map, reviews, etc.
- Project Spartan is not the default browser in build 10049 so you can change that by going to Default Programs and selecting Project Spartan to have all the web defaults.
Some of the areas that are working in Project Spartan and bring some great functionality with the browser:
- A much cleaner Content Menu on browser tabs provides options for managing those tabs.
- The inking and sharing feature works well and easily shares to OneNote. I was able to annotate using my mouse on a desktop but it is also very touch friendly. I am glad to see sharing so tightly integrated into Project Spartan as I share links to websites to OneNote multiple times a day.
- Adobe Flash Player can now be turned off in Project Spartan under the Settings menu.
- The browser is fast compared to IE in my own non-scientific usage since last night. I know some benchmarks are showing it slower in areas but with this being the first public preview of the browser that will only improve.
Overall it is impressive to see Microsoft ship this new build so quickly after the last one but I am also a realist. I understand we will not get new builds every two weeks from here on out but this is a good start for Microsoft’s commitment to pick up the pace.
More information about Windows 10 build 10049 and Project Spartan are listed below: