Microsoft is releasing a huge update for Windows 10 testers today. After unveiling new features for its Windows 10 Anniversary Update at Build recently, the software is now allowing insiders to test most of the new additions. Windows Ink is the biggest change to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, and testers will be able to try the new ink experience as part of Windows 10 Build 14328 today.
We got a closer look at Windows Ink earlier this month, and it's primarily designed to make stylus input way more useful. Today's Windows 10 test build includes the new Windows Ink Workspace, which provides access to improved sticky notes, a sketchpad, and a new screen sketch feature. Microsoft is also including the new ruler so you can use it to create shapes and objects freely.
Windows Ink isn't the only big feature arriving in this Windows 10 test build. Microsoft is tweaking the UI of the Windows 10 Start menu and Start Screen in this latest build, merging the most used apps list and all apps UI into a single view. The result is a less cluttered Start menu, and Microsoft has also moved power, settings, and file explorer shortcuts so they're always visible. Alongside the Start menu changes, the Start Screen (used mostly on tablets) has been tweaked to bring back the fullscreen all apps list. You can also toggle between the all apps view and your regular pinned apps, and auto-hide the taskbar in tablet mode to make things feel a little less like a desktop PC.
Microsoft revealed at Build that it was planning to make Cortana a more central part of Windows 10, and some of those changes are arriving today. You can now access Cortana on the lock screen, or see Cortana notifications in the Action Center. Microsoft is making a number of Cortana improvements in this latest test build, including the ability to take photo reminders or share articles from a News app to be reminded to read them. You'll also be able to use Cortana without signing in or setting the digital assistant up, and it will prompt you in future to sign-in for a more personalized feed.
Action Center will also look a little different in this Windows 10 build. Microsoft is tweaking how notifications are displayed in the taskbar, so there's a badge that will indicate how many items are waiting for your attention. You'll also be able to customize quick actions to reply or act on notifications, and individual app notifications won't repeat their icon for each notification. Some of these are small but welcome changes.
Microsoft is also making small and subtle changes elsewhere. The taskbar clock now integrates with the calendar, so you don't even need to open up the full app to check appointments. Microsoft is even listening to its gaming community and allowing the taskbar clock on all monitors for the first time, so you'll be able to check the time on any display. Other taskbar changes include badges for universal apps to let you know how many items are unread, and a quick switcher to change audio outputs from the volume controls.
In response to feedback, Microsoft is also turning off email addresses on the lock screen by default. This will be controlled from the privacy settings page, and this latest Windows 10 build also includes some minor changes to the overall settings app to improve pen settings, app management, and individual icons for pinning settings pages. Media controls will also be available on the lock screen with album art for any song playing.
Microsoft isn't making many drastic icon changes with its Windows 10 Anniversary Update, but it is updating the File Explorer icon. The new design is supposed to align with monochrome design language used across Windows 10, but Microsoft has kept a little color in so it still feels like the familiar File Explorer everyone has used for years. It's pretty basic, with only a slither of yellow, but Windows Insiders will be able to register their feedback to help Microsoft decide if any changes are required. Likewise, Microsoft is also testing unpinning the File Explorer by default in this latest build to free up some taskbar space. If you're a Windows Insider you can test all of the new changes by checking Windows Update today and upgrading to the latest Windows 10 build.