Ahead of the consumer preview of Windows 10, a new leak of the operating system (build 9901) has emerged with a ton of new features and improvements over what is already available in the Windows Technical Preview. Now that we’ve got our hands on what’s it seems to be an early version of the “January Technical Preview”, we have a big picture of what’s coming. The new build includes Cortana, taskbar improvement and other parts of the UI have been updated too, and Microsoft will be shipping new and updated apps.
Cortana, as previously rumored, seems to be on track for the January release. In build 9901, the assistant already appears operational on the desktop, though limited to what she can do. The user-interface looks more refined, but it’s not the final product. However, it’s a big improvement over the demo of Cortana, we’ve seen in the recent days.
Windows 10 build 9901 also reveals that Microsoft is paying a lot of attention to the Settings app, the replacement for PC settings. In this build, the company is including many new options that previously only found in the Control Panel.
In the new Settings, we find new options for Storage Sense that allows users to store apps and games on external hard drives including micro SD cards. There is a new personalization section to change the desktop background within the Metro interface. Ease of Access comes with a new closed captioning setting, and there is a new Backup option in the Update & Recovery page.
The leak also shows improvements Microsoft is making to the taskbar. For example, the taskbar is no longer transparent, running applications now are marked with an underline, and even hovering icons looks different.
Modern apps now feature a more modernize minimize, maximize, and close buttons. Moreover, it seems that Microsoft is moving apps settings inside of the app interface, moving away from the flyout menu page, which was a bit confusing for users.
As for new apps, Windows 10 build 9901 ships with new apps such as, Alarms, Camera beta, Calculator, a “Contact Support” app to connect with Microsoft for support on Windows, which will even allow you to schedule calls.
There is a brand new Photo app, which features settings inside of the apps instead of the flyout menu, and it’s an improvement over the terrible Photo app in Windows 8.1. In addition, there is a new Sound Recorder and an updated Windows Feedback app.
Finally yet importantly, the leak version of Windows 10 bundles a beta version of the new Windows Store with a darker color scheme and friendlier user-interface. This is an early version of the so called by Microsoft “unified Store”, which will let users purchase apps, games, music, movies and TV shows.
And there is the Xbox app, which I can only assume will be a replacement for Xbox Games and Xbox SmartGlass for both platforms (Xbox One and Xbox 360).
I embedded the video above with everything that is new and different on Windows 10 build 9901. Let me know what you think about the consumer features Microsoft is preparing to introduce in January.