Microsoft is still keeping good on its promise, and delivering weekly preview build updates to keep the Insiders engaged and receive valuable feedback. Following the previous build 14936, the company has today released yet another new PC and mobile build for users in the Fast Ring.
This is finally the one update that brings along with some minor teaks and feature improvements to the operating system in a long time. The Microsoft Insider team had been using the past month to optimise the central Core of the OS to make it accessible across all platforms. But, today’s build update #14942 brings alongwith it a new option to hide the Start Menu app list, a revamped and light-weight Photos app, a new Windows Update icon, service host ungrouping and expanded Active Hours.
So, let’s dive in and take a closer look at all the improvement introductions. Firstly, the build brings alongwith it the ability to finally tone down the Start Menu by collapsing the app list. You can try it out by navigating to Settings > Personalization > Start and turning on “Hide app list in Start menu”. This gives you a Windows Mobile-style start menu with just tiles, where the apps can be accessed via the hamburger menu. This has been one of the most requested features and the team has, thus, delivered on the same.
This is one of the minor updates, but the Photos app has been revamped to include larger photo previews, light viewing mode and horizontal navigation bar uptop for easy navigation. That’s it, all other viewing and editing features remain the same. The scope of the app has, however, now been extended beyond Windows 10, it is now available on your Xbox One as well. You can now preview photos from your OneDrive, on the large television screen.
The Insider build team has refined the Windows 10 experience on two important fronts — touchpad and PC updates. They have made some minor adjustments to gesture and click detection on precision touchpads, where left and right clicks; two finger clicks and taps; pinch to zoom have all been enhanced. Laying emphasis on accessibility, this build also introduces form field navigation commands for Narrator. You can use commands i.e letter or shift+letters, to move to the next or previous text filed in a form.
While on the PC update front, where the team had started preserving the state of uninstalled apps after an upgrade, the same feature set has now been expanded to provisioned apps. This means if you uninstall a provision app, it will remain in the same state even after you upgrade your PC.
Microsoft has also modernized the Update icon to give it a more metro-style Windows look. There are also changes introduced in the Active Hours feature which provides you control over PC restart times during updates. The defualt range, till date, had been 12 hours which some Insiders complained is too limited, and thus, it is now being extended to a good 18 hours.
In addition, one of the biggest under-the-hood changes being introduced in this update corresponds to service hosts. Instead of being clubbed under one process, they’re now split into separate processes on PCs with more than 3.5 GB of RAM. This change doesn’t accomodate critical system services as well as a couple of select service hosts, but leads to the following improvements for ungrouped services — reliability, transparency, cost and security.
Since Microsoft has introduced a lot of feature improvements in the current build, we cannot list them all in detail. Here’s a list of additional feature updates from the blogpost:
- The team has updated Narrator’s reading order for Windows 10 apps which display an app bar on the bottom of the app, for example OneDrive, so now the contents of the page will be read before the contents of the app bar.
- Fixed an issue where running sfc /scannow in an elevated command prompt would fail at 20% with the error “could not perform the requested operation.”
- Fixed an issue resulting in certain areas of Windows 10 app notifications not doing anything when clicked, rather than opening the corresponding app.
- Fixed an issue resulting in Personalization > Background Settings page crashing or showing a blank context menu when right clicking one of the recent images .
- Fixed an issue resulting in Windows Defender’s Antimalware Service Executable sometimes using an unexpectedly large amount of CPU.
- Fixed an issue resulting in the Devices and Printers page in Control Panel loading slowly for users with certain audio devices.
- Fixed an issue resulting in a small set of users seeing the NTFS partition of their external hard drive incorrectly showing up as RAW format.
- Going forward from Build 14942, custom printer names will be preserved across upgrades. We’ve also addressed an issue where the printer queue name wasn’t preserved across upgrade for some printers.
- Improved framerates when Game Bar is enabled for full screen games.
Known bugs and issues
There is only known issue in the latest insider build 14942, that too has to do with web development. Some users might face this issue where the local intranet server is unreachable, as the host separation will leave the IIS World Wide Web Publishing Service (W3Svc) unable to start successfully. Microsoft has also provided a fix for the issue:
- Run the following from an admin cmd line (or edit the registry accordingly):
- REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W3SVC /v SvcHostSplitDisable /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
- REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WAS /v SvcHostSplitDisable /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
- Reboot the system, so that the W3Svc and WAS services share a service host process.
So, if you can bear with this minor issue on your system, then head over to Settings > Update and Recovery > Preview builds and click ‘Check Now’ to update to the latest preview build.