Microsoft starts testing next big Windows 10 update, adds ‘ultimate performance’ mode for pro laptops

Windows 10

Microsoft has pushed forth a flurry of new releases on the Windows testing front, including a new preview build for Redstone 4 (the next and imminent update for the OS), alongside the first build for Redstone 5 (the following update which will go live later on this year).

On top of that, the company has introduced a new ‘ultimate performance’ power plan to get the most out of mobile workstation notebooks, along with a (previously leaked) scheme allowing for the testing of individual core Windows apps.

Essentially, what’s happening here is that we’ve reached the point where the next Windows 10 update (Redstone 4) is almost due, so therefore close to finalized, and thus Microsoft has begun work on Redstone 5 testing, releasing an initial build to Insiders who’ve previously chosen the ‘skip ahead’ ring.

You can’t opt to join the ‘skip ahead’ program at this point in time, incidentally, as Microsoft says it already has enough testers on this particular ring, with no room for more.

Folks who remain on Redstone 4 (build 17101) will be doing the final testing as Microsoft fully stabilizes the update, with new builds coming thick and fast, mostly consisting of bug fixes.

Those who have skipped ahead to Redstone 5 will begin testing the very first new features for the next update likely to arrive later this year (and those initial builds will be quite a bit wobblier than normal, as ever – it’s the cutting-edge of testing here). Although right now, the RS5 build 17604 isn’t really any different to build 17101, at least not in terms of major features – there are just some extra minor tweaks, and known issues.

So what are the main changes in these fresh builds? Well, there’s nothing huge here, with some emoji getting an update, and the expansion of Windows app permissions to let the user decide which UWP apps get access to Windows 10’s full file system.

Power to the people

The most interesting move is actually the introduction of some new features for Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, including a fresh power scheme.

This is called Ultimate Performance and as the name suggests, it’s there for those who want to get every last ounce of performance out of their workstation laptop. It’s essentially a step up from High Performance, and fine-tunes things by eliminating the “micro-latencies associated with fine grained power management techniques”, Microsoft notes.

This is likely to consume a good deal more power than a laptop using the Balanced power plan, and at the moment, it can’t even be used when you’re running on battery power (you need to have your notebook plugged into the mains).

Furthermore, when Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is initially set up, it will now offer business and productivity-focused apps, rather than consumer-targeted software and games, which certainly makes sense.

Finally, we mentioned the testing of individual Windows apps at the outset of this story, and Microsoft has indeed introduced a new Windows App Preview program.

This is all about being able to test the latest changes for individual core Windows 10 apps (like Camera, Photos and so on), and expanding this capability beyond those on the ‘skip ahead’ program. Now, going forward, any Windows Insider testing the OS, no matter what ring they’re on, can try out the latest app updates.

However, there will be a limited number of places for such app testers. And also note that you still need to be a Windows Insider, and Microsoft is not rolling out this testing of individual apps to the entire Windows 10 user base as was previously rumored. That doesn’t necessarily mean the program won’t expand to this level in the future, though – we’ll just have to see.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).