New features

Windows 10 build 21286 releases in the Dev Channel

A new preview of Windows 10 (build 21286) comes out for testers with "news and interests" feature, Storage Spaces in Settings, and many other improvements.

Windows 10 build 21286

Microsoft is now rolling out Windows 10 build 21286 as the first preview of 2021 for PCs enrolled in the Windows Insider Program’s Dev Channel. This is preview number 53 available for testers, and it is a semi-significant update with new features and a bunch of improvements.

Build 21286, according to the changelogs, introduces the news and interests experience in the taskbar. The ability to create and manage Storage Spaces from the Settings app. You can now run a command on startup using the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and transitioning between time zones has improved.

Windows 10 build 21286 new features

Here are all the new features and improvements available with the first preview of 2021 (you can also get a closer looks at this flight in this video walkthrough):

Taskbar news and interests toolbar

Starting with build 21286, the taskbar includes a new toolbar with quick access to news and interests feed tailored to your preferences, such as weather, trending news, sports, and more. The idea with this feature is to keep you on your device instead of having to open your phone to peek into news and other information throughout the day.

Windows 10 news and interests
Windows 10 news and interests / source: Microsoft

Microsoft Edge powers the experience, and you can always select the “More options” button to choose from “More stories like this,” or “Fewer stories like this,” and over time, you will only see the content tailored to your liking. The feature appears to be enabled by default, but you can always right-click the toolbar and select the option to disable it.

The taskbar news and interests feature still in development, and it is limited to users in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and India.

Storage Spaces on Settings

Storage Spaces is now part of the Settings app. This means that you can create and manage storage pools and storage spaces, add and remove drives, and optimize pools within the Settings app without the need to open Control Panel.

Storage Spaces in Settings app
Storage Spaces in Settings app / source: Microsoft

Windows Subsystem for Linux commands on distro startup

Windows 10 build 21286 also adds an option to allow you to run Linux commands on startup of a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) distro.

WSL startup commands
WSL startup commands / source: Microsoft

According to the company, you will need to edit the /etc/wsl.config file on the distro and adding an option named “command” under the “boot” section.

DiskUsage command tool

Microsoft is also officially introducing DiskUsage, a new file system tool that allows you to view and query drive space usage using Command Prompt. Using this tool, you can analyze and determine which files and folders are taking the most space to help you when you need to free up space.

DiskUsage
DiskUsage

It scans the entire drive or specified folder recursively with details about how much space each folder uses. Also, the command-line tool supports many filtering and output customization options.

Time zones settings 

In addition, this flight also includes a few changes when using the “Set time zone automatically” option. For example, when a time zone is detected, you will now receive a notification. The notification will inform you of a high confidence location change and display the option to open the Date & Time settings page. 

On the other hand, if a low confidence location change is detected, and there is only one administrator on the computer, Windows 10 will now send a notification asking if you would like to update your time zone.

Other improvements

Windows 10 build 21286 also ships with a bunch of fixes and improvements, including a new option to disable controller-to-virtual-key mapping for Universal Windows Platform apps. If you want to do this, you need to create an Enabled DWORD with the value of 0 in this path: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Input\Settings\ControllerProcessor\ControllerToVKMapping.

Microsoft is listing the complete set of improvements, fixes, and known issues for Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21286 at the Windows Blog.

Download Windows 10 build 21286

The build 21286 preview is available immediately through the Dev Channel, and it will install automatically. However, you can always get it manually from Settings Update & security > Windows Update and clicking the Check for updates button.

You can learn more about all the changes available in the current development process of Windows 10 in this guide.