When Microsoft released the Windows 10 Technical Preview at the start of October, it promised that we’d get lots of rapid updates as it fixes bugs and rolls out new features — and it wasn’t lying! Yesterday, just three weeks after the initial Technical Preview release, Microsoft rolled out the first major update. There are three major new features in Windows 10 build 9841 — a notification tray, Battery Sense, and Data Sense.
In my eyes, though, the most important aspect was that it was really easy to install the new build; you just click a button. With Windows 10, has Microsoft finally tackled the abomination that is the Windows upgrade process?
The glorious one-click upgrade to Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9860
Upgrading to the new build was very easy: You head along to PC Settings, hit “Update and recovery,” click the “Preview builds” tab, and then “Download now.” The new preview build took a while to download — it’s about 2GB or so – but eventually an “Install now” button appeared.
After clicking the Install button, you go through a process that looks a lot like a normal Windows 8 installation. You get a number of black screens with the Windows flag on it, with messages like “Setting up a few more things” at the bottom. Eventually, after a few reboots, you get the rainbow-colored “OMG, Windows 10 is almost ready to go!” sequence — and about 60 seconds later, you’re at the login screen.
The whole process — upgrading from build 9841 to 9860 — took 13 minutes. As far as I can tell, nothing was broken by the upgrade — though I think a few settings, like my microphone volume, were reverted to the defaults. Sadly I didn’t time how long it took my laptop to upgrade from OS X 10.9 to 10.10, but I think Windows 10 was faster by a few minutes. Overall, I am very impressed by Windows 10′s new one-click in-place upgrade.
You cannot perform this upgrade process from the Desktop Control Panel applet called Windows Update. I don’t know if you will be able to in the future, or if Microsoft is going to continue on with this rather odd and clunky interface dichotomy.
What’s new in Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9860?
Here’s a quick list of the new features in build 9860:
- The Action Center (i.e. notification tray) is now in. As I noted previously, the Windows 10 Desktop interface gains the top-right-corner toast notifications from Windows 8/Metro. Now, there’s also a notification tray (which Microsoft calls the Action Center) available from the bottom right corner of the taskbar. It’s a very rough implementation at the moment.
- Battery Saver. Just like the Windows Phone feature of the same name, Battery Saver allows Windows 10 to limit background activity and scale back hardware performance to conserve battery life.
- Data Sense. Again, just like on Windows Phone, this feature lets you track WiFi and cellular data use — and to set limits on how much mobile data apps can use.
- More keyboard shortcuts. Windows Key + Shift + Left/Right again moves apps between multiple monitors. There are probably some more shortcuts, but I haven’t found them yet.
- New animations! Rather oddly, there’s a bunch of new animations in Windows 10 build 9860. First, it seems there’s now a whole range of animations for opening, minimizing, and closing programs. I am hesitant to say this, but the animations are almost… cute. Personally I really dislike them (and you can turn them off from System > Advanced system settings > Performance) — but maybe I’ll grow to like them… in time. There’s also a new sliding animation when switching from one virtual desktop to another via the Windows Key-Tab switcher.
Overall, Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9860 is rather impressive. It’s obviously still very much a work in progress, but I’m excited by Microsoft’s accelerated release cadence. If Microsoft can keep it up and release a new build every couple of weeks, and it continues to listen to tester feedback, then the final release of Windows 10 might actually be a useful, decent operating system.