Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 10041 to Windows Insiders

Microsoft has announced that a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview is coming to Windows Insiders on the Fast Ring today.  The new Build 10041 comes 54 days after the first preview release and is being welcomed with glee as it addresses a lot of bugs and brings improved features and functionality over the original build, Build 9926.  Only those in the Windows Insider program will have access to it and only those in the Fast Ring will see it.  As a reminder, this is a beta of Windows 10 so it is far from complete despite Microsoft’s announcement today that we will see Windows 10 this summer.  If you are not willing and able to test the platform it is recommend you not join the Windows Insider program and download it.

First and foremost, this new build of Windows 10 does not include the new Project Spartan browser which at Microsoft at one point said it would include.  While it is not clear as to why it is not included, it likely has to do with stability issues or performance issues even those in the Fast Ring would have a hard time tolerating.  The build does include many of the UI enhancements that have been leaked over the last few weeks including a new transparent Start Menu.  There are also visual tweaks to virtual desktops with you now having the ability to drag-and-drop applications to specific desktops.

In the previous build, Windows 10 would present a boot selection menu when you rebooted your PC.  That is now gone in this release.  The search box now works if you have the taskbar on the top or side of your screen and several issues that prevented the Start button from launching that were in Build 9926 should now be fixed.

Other changes in this build of Windows 10 Technical Preview include an enhanced and improved Photo app which will be a universal app across all Windows 10 devices.  There are improvements in handwriting input.  Cortana also got expanded into new markets where as before it was only available in the US.  Now Cortana will work from the desktop in the UK, China, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

As I said however, Windows 10 is still very much in beta and there is still a reasonable list of known issues in this release:

  • Some people might hit an issue where the username and password boxes do not appear or don’t accept input when logging in, which will prevent them from logging in. Possible workarounds include clicking the “Switch User” button, using Ctrl+Alt+Del, or pressing the power button on your PC to sleep/resume and try again.
  • It is possible to manually lock your PC during the initial out-of-box experience. If you do this, you will have to hard reboot your PC and restart the OOBE experience. (So don’t lock your PC during OOBE :-)
  • There are several accessibility issues in this build, which may make it difficult to use with Narrator or 3rd party screen readers. Additionally there is an issue where using a Lens after enabling Magnifier may cause the screen to be unusable.
  • Some apps in the Store Beta will fail to install or update due to a licensing issue.
  • In this build, the Mail, Calendar, and People apps may be broken due to a licensing issue with the Store Beta. To get these apps working again, you need to follow these steps:
    • Open powershell as administrator
    • Run the command Get-appxprovisionedpackage –online | where-object {$_.packagename –like “*windowscommunicationsapps*”} | remove-appxprovisionedpackage –online
    • Re-install Mail, People and Calendar from the Store (green tile)
  • You might notice a chess knight icon on your Lock screen to the right of the screen. This was added by the Lock screen team so they could tell via screenshots if someone was using the new Lock screen or the old one, and will eventually be removed in a future build.
  • Font sizes on the Lock screen on devices with high DPI can be really large.
  • We currently have the Tablet Mode notification turned off by default to address some of the issues we’ve been seeing. The notifications can be turned back on via Settings.
  • The touch keyboard doesn’t show up on login screen which prevents you from unlocking your PC when Narrator is on.
  • Some people might see frequent prompts to restart to install updates, even though no updates need a restart. This prompt can be ignored safely.

If you are in the Windows Insider program and in the Fast Ring, this new build is available now Over-The-Air.  For those of you in the Slow Ring, it will be released in a few weeks when the ISO image is released and likely will contain fixes that are found by those in the Fast Ring.