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Windows 10 build 10061 hands-on: Exploring the new Technical Preview's fresh apps and features

Brad Chacos | April 24, 2015
Even though its big annual Build conference doesn't kick off until next week, Microsoft dropped Windows 10 Technical Preview build 10061 late Wednesday night. Unlike the last Technical Preview release--which merely added the Project Spartan browser--this one is positively stuffed with tweaks, changes and news apps.

Oh, and a warning for Solitaire purists: It's the new-look Solitaire Windows app that comes preloaded in Windows 10, not the simple desktop application of old.

Call me maybe

Interestingly, Windows 10 build 10061 includes a new "Contact Support" app that points you toward resolutions if you run into trouble. You can arrange to chat online with Microsoft agents or (theoretically) schedule a support call from right within the app — which even displays the current wait time for your callback.

Currently, actually trying to schedule a call results in an error. It'll be a nifty feature in the final build, though.

New news

Windows 10's News app also receives a fresh coat of paint in build 10061. It's a more dense design than its Window 8 counterpart, ditching its predecessor's full-screen "main story" splash and cramming more stories onto the screen by ditching text descriptions in favor of a grid of images with headlines. There's also a menu row across the top of the screen to jump from topic to topic.

All in all, it's a vast improvement over the ho-hum Windows 8 News app — one that introduces a more appealing aesthetic while simultaneously improving the navigation experience for touch and keyboard-and-mouse users alike.

Finally, the Alarms & Clocks app has been redone with a white design, replacing the previous dark theme. Windows 10 build 10061 also includes a new-look calendar and clock interface when you click on the time and date in the taskbar's system tray.

Tablet mode and virtual desktop tweaks

Microsoft also tweaked Continuum, its solution for swapping between desktop-centric and touch-friendly interfaces.

Activating Tablet Mode (which you can do in the Action Center) strips all apps off your screen, leaving only icons for Task View, the Start screen, and Cortana/search in your taskbar. Those icons are more spread out in Windows 10 build 10061, which is nice for fat-fingered folks like myself. Even open and pinned apps disappear from the taskbar to "reduce clutter and simplify the experience," though you can disable that by firing up the Settings app, searching for Tablet Mode, then toggling "Hide app icons on the taskbar when in Tablet Mode" to off.

That same Tablet Mode settings screen also now contains an option to boot directly into Tablet Mode, rather than the desktop (though the latter is still the default). You can select your default interface from the "When I sign on" drop-down menu.

Speaking of interface tweaks, Microsoft's also slightly refined the look of its Task View interface, which allows you to jump among your various virtual desktops. The new build strips away all desktop clutter to focus solely on your virtual desktops and their open apps. And if you really enjoy virtual desktops, Windows 10 now supports an unlimited number of them. Huzzah?

 

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