Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program lead Dona Sarkar, following over the past few days regarding how long it’s been since the last release of an Insider Preview build, shared a blog post (opens in new tab) detailing a veritable laundry list of changes and improvements. We’re talking about thousands of words worth of details – it’s almost as if Microsoft looks to make up for something.
Because there are so, so many new tools and improvements now available to Insider Preview users in the Fast Ring update channel, let’s focus on the most exciting ones.
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Edge begins to cut the mustard
Microsoft has finally introduced a web payments interface to its Edge browser for testing, allowing users to test out how those payments will work once the system launches. In other words, you won’t be able to buy things through it yet, but at least you can see how it will work.
The firm has now also bestowed a useful feature upon the browser: tab storing. Now, you can group a collection of tabs and store them together behind a handy button near the address bar. Between that and the ability to preview your tab’s webpages in a new, aptly named Tab Preview Bar, keeping your oodles of tabs organized by task or interest should be much easier.
Finally, Edge will now block all Flash content by default, taking a long-overdue cue from the likes of Google and Apple in how they treat Flash in their browsers.
Cortana branches out
With plenty of third-party developers adding Cortana functions to their Windows 10 apps, Microsoft has found ways to highlight those expanded capabilities. First, a new section of the Windows 10 Store titled “Better with Cortana” will highlight apps with these voice-controlled enhancements.
Secondly, Cortana can now remind you of things to do on a monthly or annual basis, which could be useful for bill reminders as well as those for anniversaries and birthdays. And finally, Microsoft changed the keyboard shortcut to access Cortana a simpler “WIN + C,” if you don’t want to use your voice.
Start gets tidier and more social
While we all love the new-slash-old Start menu, the amount of app Tiles can grow overwhelming. So, Microsoft has introduced folders to the tool, used much in the same way you organize apps on your smartphone. (This also implies that enough people use the Start menu in such a way to make it worth designing this feature – strange.)
Microsoft has also updated its sharing tool, making it more specific to the app you’re currently using and where you’ve shared to in the past. The update may also introduce more ads to the experience, as we’ve previously covered, though Sarkar’s post makes no mention of this.
Windows 10 gets even more accessible
The last leg of improvements to Microsoft’s OS are all about getting more people into Windows 10 more easily than ever – and that means all kinds of people. To start, Microsoft has overhauled the experience of setting up a new Windows 10 PC once more, allowing Cortana to drive much of the steps through voice commands. Interesting as they are, the changes are not yet complete.
For starters, Windows 10 is finally getting support for Braille – something you’d think would have been there from launch day back in July 2015. However, this feature is not yet complete either. The Windows 10 Narrator tool is undergoing some minor changes, too, like a more deliberate keyboard shortcut, and Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform apps are now more legible in high contrast mode for the color blind.
Rounding out the most exciting changes are a mode that reduces the amount of blue light your PC gives off – ideal for late-night users – and new capabilities for Windows Defender, like reporting on the health of your PC and refreshing your Windows 10 install.
There are way more improvements in Insider Preview build #15002 than we can list here, so read the list in full right here (opens in new tab) before you enter the Fast Ring to test drive them yourself. Spring certainly cannot come soon enough.
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