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Microsoft Releases Early Look at Windows 10 'Anniversary Update'

Microsoft on Wednesday released a new Windows 10 test build that includes previews of features coming in this summer's Windows 10 "Anniversary Update" (code-named "Redstone 1").

Build 14316 is available only to Windows Insider program testers who have opted into receiving "fast-ring" early releases. Most Windows Insider participants follow slower Windows 10 release cycles, which deliver previews that have undergone a greater degree of testing. Those testers won't see this release.

Microsoft talked extensively about the upcoming anniversary update (named for its expected release roughly a year from the initial Windows 10 launch last summer) during its Build conference last week. Build 14316 includes features Microsoft described at Build, most notably support for the Linux Bash shell in Windows. Microsoft is adding Bash support to help developers who rely on open source development tools. The Bash shell isn't just there, though. Windows Insider fast-ring testers have to activate it by turning on a "Developer Mode" in the operating system, according to Microsoft's announcement.

The new build also adds a lot of Cortana enhancements. The Cortana service will now tell users when the battery power is low. It can track misplaced phones by sending a ring tone. The Cortana service also can now send map directions to another device for travelers dependent on smart phones, for instance.

Also included with this build is support for a couple of new Microsoft Edge browser extensions. There's a new Pin It Button extension and a OneNote Clipper extension. The Edge browser is just starting to get an extensions capability, which is still at the preview stage.

Microsoft enabled new app support with this Windows 10 build. For instance, there's support for the Skype Universal Windows Platform app preview on PCs (mobile support will follow). There's also support for a Connect app that more easily lets Windows 10 Phone devices connect with PCs. For instance, the Connect app dispenses with the need to use "a dock or Miracast adapter" when using the Windows 10 "Continuum" feature, according to Microsoft's announcement. Continuum is a Windows 10 capability that enables a Window 10 Phone device to use the screen, mouse and keyboard of a Windows 10 PC when plugged in.

Microsoft added some usability improvements in this release. For instance, the Action Center can now be customized to show the notices you want, as well as their frequency. The Virtual Desktop feature now lets users pin a window to a desktop and have it appear across every desktop, if wanted.

Microsoft also improved the battery use settings and options available in Windows 10. For instance, there's a new "Managed by Windows" setting for applications. It will stop application battery drain when a Battery Saver feature is turned on. Users can also specify the hours when they are active on their machines. If that's done, updates won't automatically install during that specified time period.

Microsoft fixed some software flaws with this preview release. However, this release is definitely not for developers that depend on the Visual Studio emulator capability when building Windows 10 applications. They'll get an "authentication error" when using the emulator with this release, Microsoft's announcement cautioned.

About the Author

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