It was quite a long wait, but Microsoft has finally released a new Windows 10 Insider build with some new features and noticeable changes today. Even the Windows Insider website is getting a new look, though it’s currently only available in en-us English for now.
So, the Windows 10 Insider build 20161 is now available to download in the Dev channel, and it includes several important changes. However, the Windows Insider team said that only a subset of Insiders will see the new features for now so the team can "quickly identify issues that may impact performance and reliability.”
Anyway, the first big change in this build is that the Start Menu is getting Theme-aware tiles, which will replace the solid color backplates that didn’t always look good depending on your accent color. "This refined Start design looks great in both dark and light theme, but if you’re looking for a splash of color, first make sure to turn on Windows dark theme and then toggle “Show accent color on the following surfaces” for “Start, taskbar, and action center” under Settings > Personalization > Color to elegantly apply your accent color to the Start frame and tiles,” the team explained.
The second big change in this build is that the Alt + Tab experience will now include all tabs open in Edge. You can turn this off in Settings > System > Multitasking if you prefer the classic experience, or you can choose to only show your last three or five tabs when you hit Alt + Tab. This feature will also require a Canary or Dev build of Microsoft Edge (version 83.0.475.0 or higher), Microsoft said today.
Starting with this build, Microsoft is also introducing a Programmable taskbar during the out-of-box experience. The idea is to offer a more personalized Taskbar for new users with linked Android phones, or those with Xbox Live accounts on gaming PCs, so the taskbar will add useful shortcuts to Your Phone or the Xbox app when they boot up their new PC.
"Please note that this experience is limited to new account creation or first logon scenarios. We will not use Programmable Taskbar to alter the Taskbar layout on existing accounts,” the Windows Insider team clarified. You can see some examples of this Programmable Taskbar below.
Microsoft has also changed how notifications look like in this new build, with a new app logo at the top showing which app has sent you the notification. Moreover, Microsoft has also turned off the Focus Assist notification and summary toast you usually see after Focus Assist has been automatically turned on. However, Insiders will still be able to revert to the previous behaviour if they prefer seeing these notifications.
The Settings app is also getting more information from the Legacy Control Panel in this build, though the Windows Insider team said that this is still a work in progress. Moreover, it will now be possible to copy your device specifications, and Microsoft has also streamlined information about Windows Security in the Settings app.
The last big change in this build is related to the tablet experience for 2-in-1 devices: The new tablet posture experience that debuted in the May 2020 Update will now be the default when you detach the keyboard on a 2-in-1 device, and users will no longer see the notification asking them if they want to switch into tablet mode. Again, Insiders will be able to change this setting in System > Tablet if they prefer the old experience.
There are two other important things to note about the tablet experience for 2-in-1 devices in this build: Microsoft has removed the tablet mode quick action on non-touch devices to prevent any confusion, and tablet users will also boot into the appropriate mode depending on the presence of the keyboard, or the last mode they were using.
That’s a lot of changes for a single build, but keep in mind that these are all experimental features that may not end up in a future Windows 10 Update. The build 20161 also comes with several fixes and known issues, and you can find the full list below:
- We fixed an issue resulting in Insiders experiencing bug checks when connecting and interacting with an Xbox controller.
- We’ve fixed an issue causing some games and applications to crash at launch or fail to install.
- We fixed an issue resulting in Microsoft Edge not navigating to websites when WDAG was enabled on the last 2 flights.
- We fixed an issue which was increasing log off time in recent builds.
- We fixed an issue with the Chinese Pinyin IME where after setting your preferred IME toolbar orientation, you may not be able to change it again after rebooting your PC.
- We fixed an issue causing Reset this PC to always show the error “There was a problem resetting this PC” when launched from Settings in the last few builds.
- We fixed an issue resulting in some Bluetooth devices no longer showing their battery level in Settings in the last few builds.
- We fixed an issue where Settings would crash if you went to Settings > Privacy > Microphone while a win32 app was recording audio.
- We fixed an issue where if Sound Settings showed “no input devices found” in the input dropdown and you clicked it, then Settings would crash.
- We fixed an issue where when adding a printer, the dialog might crash if you navigated through to the “Add a printer driver” dialog in recent builds.
- We fixed a graphics related issue resulting in some users experiencing bugchecks.
- We’re working on a fix for an issue causing some systems to crash with a HYPERVISOR_ERROR bugcheck.
- We’re looking into reports of the update process hanging for extended periods of time when attempting to install a new build.
- We’re aware of an issue where Notepad might fail to reopen files which were automatically saved during a PC restart (if that option is enabled in Settings). Documents can be recovered from %localappdata%Notepad.We’re investigating reports of the screen becoming dimmer after upgrading to the previous build.
- We’re aware of an issue where Task Manager reports 0.00 GHz CPU usage in the Performance tab.
- We’re investigating reports that when you press space while using the Korean IME in certain apps, the last character is deleted.
- We’re working to fine tune the tile animations in Start to avoid flashes of color.
It's nice to finally get new features to play with, even though we remind you that only a subset of Insiders who install this build will see them at first. If you're not an Insider, the Windows Insider team also announced today that the new Windows Calculator graphing mode feature that was released to Insiders in January is now rolling out to the public. We're getting some existing Insider news a little bit later in the day than usual this week, but we hope the team will soon be back with more new features later this month.