Microsoft Drops New Windows 10 Build, Promises Faster Updates

This afternoon, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 build for participants in its beta program for the forthcoming operating system.

The build (“10041” for those keeping score) includes a number of new features and fixes that we’ll get to in a moment, but more importantly Microsoft has retooled its release program to get new, fresher code more quickly into the market. The more than 3 million people who are part of the Windows 10 testing group who elect to receive faster updates of less-solid code will now receive them at an accelerated rate.

Gabe Aul, the public face of Windows 10’s update cycle, tells me that Microsoft has changed its federation process for builds, allowing the company to more quickly get code into the hands of users who want a leading-edge experience. Testing will still occur inside of Microsoft before builds are released to those users, and Windows 10 users who select the slower build cycle won’t be affected. According to Aul, public users on the faster release schedule should expect around a build per month.

Microsoft is setting the tone for how it will build and release future Windows varietals. If it can lay a decent process with Windows 10, the next version of Windows — call it Windows 47 — will have a market-grokkable path from birth to launch.

What’s New

According to a blog post, Microsoft has fixed a number of known bugs and introduced the following set of new features:

  • Cortana on Windows 10 is now available in “China, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.” It will be interesting to track on a by-country basis how popular the voice-activated digital assistant becomes.
  • Interface improvements to both the Start Menu and virtual desktops.
  • Now when a user clicks on the Wi-Fi icon, it won’t fire up the full Settings window. Instead, the motion will launch a smaller, “fly-out” from the Start Bar that will likely save you time. [Author note: Thank god.]
  • Improved location for handwriting recognition and a stronger Photos app.

All told, it’s a decent mix for an interim build. I’d wager that we won’t see too much more from the company until its Build developer conference , but would love to be wrong.

Microsoft is effectively doubling down on its bet that getting the public onto its new operating system quickly, providing updates as it can, is a winning move. Given the number of testers that the company has accumulated, the strategy seems to be working.