Microsoft is continuing its pace of releasing a new Windows 10 Technical Preview every three weeks. The last build (9860) included more than 7,000 changes and a new notification center, and today’s release (9879) includes some similar minor tweaks. Microsoft is adding the ability for Windows 10 users to hide the search and task view buttons from the taskbar, a highly requested change from early testers. Other changes include some UI tweaks and changes to animations. "We heard that the new minimize and restore animations for apps we introduced in the last build were a bit jarring so we’ve updated them," says Microsoft's Gabe Aul.
Most of the UI changes are small, with tweaks to File Explorer to pin favorite folders to Home, and corrections to dialogs in modern apps. Microsoft is also making some addition icon changes, which will hopefully result in the final version of Windows 10 being totally overhauled on the icon side and more modern. "Remember, the UX in Windows 10 right now is a work-in-progress with a lot more coming," notes Atul.
Trackpad gestures just like the Mac
Microsoft is also adding some new trackpad gestures to this particular release. Joe Belfiore previously revealed some of the gestures last month, including a three finger swipe down action to minimize all active Windows and three finger swipe up to bring them back. An interesting addition is the ability to use a three finger swipe up gesture to activate the new Task View feature of Windows 10. Not only does Task View look like OS X’s Mission Control (Exposé) feature, the three finger swipe up is the same gesture. Microsoft is also borrowing the three finger swipe left and right to activate switching between apps, something Apple uses to move between fullscreen Mac applications. Snap Assist will also work across multiple monitors now, making it easier to control windows.
While Internet Explorer 12 is still in development, Microsoft is showing off some of the changes it's making in the upcoming browser in Windows 10. Today’s build includes similar interoperability features that the software maker shipped with a recent Windows Phone 8.1 update to improve browsing. It’s largely designed to make websites created for webkit browsers work well in Internet Explorer. It’s a challenge that has largely affected mobile sites, but Microsoft is also trying to support legacy sites that have been designed for previous versions of Internet Explorer. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team have also detailed several developer-focused changes in Windows 10.
The latest build also includes some changes to OneDrive syncing. While Microsoft introduced the concept of using placeholders in Windows 8.1 to show files that might not have been fully synced, that has clearly caused confusion. "People would expect that any files they see in File Explorer would be available offline by default," admits Atul. "It didn’t feel like sync was as reliable as it needed to be." In this latest test build, Microsoft is enabling selective sync by default, meaning you choose what is synced down to a PC from OneDrive. Microsoft also appears to be moving away from the OneDrive modern app towards an integrated desktop experience. "In Windows 10, we are providing people with one easy way to get to their OneDrive files – through File Explorer," explains Atul.
Last preview build of 2014
MKV video fans will be pleased to hear that Microsoft is natively supporting the file format in Windows 10, just like Xbox One. DLNA and Play To is also supported for MKV, and video thumbnails and metadata will show fully in File Explorer. "We also added platform support for H.264 HEVC for Windows 10 as well, and we’re not done here yet," says Atul. "More news to come on this later." This is Microsoft's final Windows 10 Technical Preview build for 2014. "We’ll have something new to share with you early in 2015," says Atul.