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Report: Windows 10 Consumer Preview Coming January

A consumer preview release of Windows 10 will be issued sometime next month, according to a report Wednesday by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley.

Unlike the current enterprise preview version of Windows 10, the "January technical preview" will be aimed at consumers, Foley said. It will likely showcase the "continuum" Windows 10 design feature, which changes a machine's behavior for devices that can convert from laptops to tablets. It also may feature integration with Cortana, Microsoft's voice-responsive personal assistant application.

The next Windows Server build is also expected to arrive in January 2015, according to Foley's account. She didn't describe any features, but noted that Microsoft officials have been talking about building Docker container support into the product. Docker is a solution for packaging distributed applications that promises to improve application deployment scenarios.

Foley's information is based on unnamed sources, rather than on statements from Microsoft. But she's typically been accurate over the years.

Microsoft's Windows 10 Preview Releases
Microsoft has said very little about Windows 10 since it released build 9841 of the Windows 10 technical preview on Oct. 1. It released build 9860 later that same month with a few additional features.

An interim new build 9888 that Microsoft doesn't consider ready for its first-release testers was leaked this week. That build is notable for changing the version number for the Windows 10 kernel "from 6.4 to 10.0," according to Foley's account. Microsoft has a long tradition of not matching the kernel build number to the Windows name. That peculiarity appears to be designed to get around certain application detection issues in which an app will sometimes fail after checking for a particular Windows version. An Ars Technica article goes into the details of how Windows 10 supposedly will eliminate that disparity.

On Tuesday, Gabriel Aul, a data and fundamentals team lead at Microsoft's Operating systems Group, announced an additional Windows 10 update (known as "KB 3020114") that purports to fix a Windows Explorer crash problem. Aul also noted that Microsoft is currently working on an issue where this update won't install for some testers.

Aul is Microsoft's main conveyor of Windows 10 update information, which gets dispensed through his Twitter feed or Blogging Windows posts. He's said nothing about a so-called January technical preview release as of press time, however.

Monthly Windows 10 Preview Releases
Foley said that Microsoft is planning monthly releases of these Windows 10 consumer test versions in 2015. After the January technical preview, there may be releases for February, March and so on, she indicated.

Microsoft isn't planning any further Windows 10 releases until next month. However, more information about its plans will get disclosed in a Jan. 20 to 21 press event that's scheduled to take place in Redmond, Wash., according to Foley's sources.

Possibly, Microsoft may talk more about its mobile Windows 10 efforts at that time, Foley speculated. Microsoft has said that Windows 10 eventually will power smartphones. It even plans to replace its Windows Phone operating system with Windows 10. No test version of Windows 10 was released for ARM systems when Microsoft issued the x86-based Windows 10 preview back in October, but Foley's sources told her that Microsoft plans to make a "mobile SKU" of Windows 10 that will work not just on ARM devices, but also on "less powerful Intel-based ones, too."

To get Microsoft's Windows 10 technical preview releases, testers have to sign up for the Windows Insider Program. Participants then get any new builds via Windows Update. They can opt to be in a "fast ring," in which they get the less stable builds, or they can be part of the default "slow ring" of testers. Aul said in November that "the fast ring is about 10% the size of the slow ring."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.