Windows 10 Settings: Hands-on with new features, tweaks, and a refined UI

Microsoft is updating the Settings app in Windows 10 with new refined UI, a bunch of new settings, and reorganisation. (The same changes also appear on build 10041)

Settings in Windows 10 build 10036

It’s been nearly two months since Microsoft rolled out the last preview of Windows 10 (build 9926), but today thanks to a recently leaked version of the operating system (build 10036), we have a pretty good picture of what probably is coming in the next release, at least for the Fast ring.

The new leak shows a number of features and improvements the software giant is adding to Windows 10, such as transparency to the Start menu and an improved Task View, but the company has also been improving the Settings app, which will be what one day will completely replace the Control Panel.

The first thing people will notice is how Microsoft is improving the UI with new toggle menus, improved context menus, and circular user profile image instead of the square version. In other words, the Windows 10 user interface is coming together to offer the same experience across PC, tablet, and phone.

However, many changes that Microsoft is adding to the operating system appear in the Settings app. The following list details all the new features and changes found in Windows 10 build 10036 since the last official public release (build 9926).

System

Apps & features: System now includes new sections, such as “Apps & features”. Build 10036, shows that Microsoft is trying to improve how apps are managed in the operating system. Now it’s easier to identify how apps are using your local storage, there is a search box to look up apps, and filters to find apps by name, date installed, and size. Additionally, you can list installed apps from the entire computer or by specific location.

Windows 10 Settings: Apps & Features

Windows Defender: Microsoft is making settings from its antivirus easily accessible from the Settings app. In build 10036, users will find a new “Windows Defender” section to configure all the settings available from the lightweight antivirus. Users can now enable or disable the real-time protection, cloud protection, folder exclusion, and now it’s easier to know which version you are running.

Windows Defender on the Settings app in Windows 10

Related settings: This is another important improvement worth pointing out. Now users will find a list of related settings when configuring the operating system on pretty much each section of the Settings app to hint users they can further configure Windows 10. The list of related settings can link to options inside the Settings app or Control Panel.

Related Settings on Windows 10

Multitasking: Microsoft has replaced “Windowing” found in build 9926 with “Multitasking”. Inside the new page, users will find the settings for Snap and Task View (virtual desktops).

Multitasking settings on Windows 10

Maps: Now users can easily enable an option to control how maps are downloaded on metered connections to safe data transfers.

Maps settings in Windows 10

Additional features: This section has been removed from the operating system.

App sizes: Microsoft has moved settings on “App sizes” to the new “Apps & features”.

Tablet Mode: Also known as Continuum, Tablet Mode is a new feature in Windows 10 that allows users to switch from a keyboard & mouse to a touch-optimized environment seamlessly without users having to restart the computer to switch modes. This feature is particularly useful for those 2-in-1 devices like Surface Pro 3, which when you disconnect the keyboard, you’ll be prompted to enable “Tablet Mode” and continue working with a more optimized user interface.

In Windows 10 build 10036, you can manually enable “Tablet Mode” and configure Windows to “Never prompt me and always stay in my current mode”, “Always prompt me to confirm”, or “Never prompt me and always switch modes”.

Tablet Mode settings

Devices

The Devices section in the Settings app didn’t received any new changes.

Network & Internet

Windows 10 build 10036 now only lists VPN, Dial-up, Ethernet, and Proxy settings. DirectAccess, Cellular, or Wi-Fi are listed. However, I will assume that Wi-Fi will be available when a wireless adapter is detected by the operating system.

Network & Internet settings

Personalization

The Personalization section in the Settings app didn’t received any new changes.

Time & Languages

The Time & Languages section in the Settings app didn’t received any new changes.

Ease of Access

The Easy of Access section in the Settings app didn’t received any new changes.

Privacy

Microsoft has updated the Privacy settings section and now it includes options to control how apps access Contacts, Calendar, and Messaging.

Privacy settings in Windows 10

Update & recovery

Choose how you download updates: In Windows 10 build 10036, Microsoft is introducing a new feature that will allow users to use multiple sources to download updates for the operating system and apps. Basically, users will have the option to choose to download updates faster from PCs on the local network or from PCs on the internet, very similar to how a peer-to-peer network works.

Windows 10 offers update download from multiple sources

Recovery: In the Recovery page, users will notice that through the Advanced startup, now the boot options includes a feature to “Roll back the previous build”.

Roll back to the previous build of Windows 10 Advanced options

Finally, for those still wondering, the unofficial version of Windows 10 (build 10036) doesn’t include the new installation process UI.

When we dig deep into the unofficial release of Windows 10, we can find many subtle changes, not only the company is adding new features, but it’s also reorganizing how configurations are grouped inside the Settings apps and with the help of Related settings, users will be able to spend less time configuring Windows and more getting things done.

As we get closer to Windows 10 RTM, we’ll start to see more of the operating system coming together. Hopefully, the company will soon start releasing new builds more frequently.

Update March 18, 20015: All these new changes in the Settings app also appear in Windows 10 build 10041.