Microsoft has added touchpad gestures, fine-tuned OneDrive syncing and revamped the feedback app in the latest build of Windows 10 Technical Preview, released Wednesday to testers on the OS's delivery fast track.
Build 9879 is the third version of Windows 10 TP and the last one for this year, so hopefully it contains enough new and improved capabilities to keep members of the Windows Insider testing program entertained until early 2015, when a fourth build is slated for release.
"We'll be using the time over the holidays to continue making refinements both to the product and to our engineering system that we're using to bring it to you," wrote Gabe Aul, leader of the Data & Fundamentals Team in Microsoft's Operating Systems Group (OSG), in a blog post.
The new build lets Windows 10 TP recognize several three-finger gestures in PCs equipped with precision touchpads, which were initially designed to work with Windows 8.1. These gestures include moving three fingers up to call up task view, sliding three fingers down to display the desktop and tapping three fingers to bring up the search utility.
For OneDrive users, Microsoft has done away with place-holder icons in File Explorer that represented files stored in the cloud but not locally in the PC, because it led some testers to mistakenly think certain cloud-only files were also available in their hard drives. These confusing place holders also exist in Windows 8.1.
"OneDrive will use selective sync. This means you choose what you want synced to your PC and it will be. What you see is really there and you don't need to worry about downloading it," Aul wrote, adding that the users also get the option to have all of their OneDrive files synced to their PCs. In this build, Microsoft has also consolidated different ways of accessing OneDrive files that exist in Windows 8.1 down to one option: File Explorer.
Ten percent of Windows 10 TP testers will get Internet Explorer's new Edge rendering engine, which Microsoft has designed to improve the browser's interoperability and compatibility features. Microsoft wants these select few testers to "watch for broken sites" as they browse the Web normally with IE. "If you see a problem, just click the smiley face feedback button in the upper right corner of IE and select 'send a frown,'" Aul wrote.
The new build also brings improvements to the testers' information and feedback tools. There's a new Insider Hub app that acts as "your one-stop-shop" for news and announcements about the Windows Insider program, including information and testing requests that will not necessarily be included in official blog or forum posts.
Meanwhile, the Feedback app, which has gotten mixed reviews from testers, has been revamped in several ways. For example, the screenshot button is now more prominently displayed, there are more options for sorting feedback posts, and a feedback search bug has been fixed.
In response to tester feedback, Microsoft has also fixed "a lot" of issues causing previous builds to crash and hang, made it easier to find the charms and full screen buttons in modern apps and made it possible to hide the Search and Task View buttons on the taskbar.
Build 9879 will be delivered via Windows Update to testers in the "fast" delivery track of the program. Those in the "slow" track will get it at a yet undetermined date "after we see how everything goes" with the first batch of testers, according to Aul. At that time, Microsoft will also make available for the first time an ISO image of Windows 10 TP, which has been a frequent request from members of the Windows Insider program.
Microsoft is warning of known issues testers may experience with this new build, including a black screen when trying to log in to or unlock the device. To get rid of the black screen, users will need to reboot their computer by holding down the power button. It's also possible that the space occupied by the OS will grow to more than 20 gigabytes as a result of driver duplication, which will prevent the build's installation in computers running low on local storage.
Windows 10, the much awaited successor to the problematic Windows 8/8.1 operating system, is expected to ship commercially by mid-2015.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.
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