Windows 10 Build 10041 Deep Dive Part 2:
Welcome back to our series on the latest build of Windows 10, build 10041. This is a continuation of the series started in Part 1, in which we covered installation and first impressions. If you haven’t read that yet, why don’t you check that out first and then come back to this post.
Without further delay, let’s get on with part 2!
New additions and tweaks
Windows 10 Build 10041 brings us a few new bits and bobs as well as tweaks to previous ones. This has truly been an evolutionary development process. Some features and UI elements that have become standards since Windows 7 and 8 were missing from the earlier builds of Windows 10, so it has been good to see them trickle back into the more recent builds.
Network Fly-out Menu
Yes, the Network fly-out menu has returned! This has been a staple since Windows 8 and 8.1, so when it was missing from previous builds it was a bit of a surprise; thankfully in Build 10041 it has made its return. Quick access to Airplane mode and WiFi networks is back, which is nice. The impact of this particular item being missing was surprising to me, and I didn’t realize how often I used it until it was gone. It’s one of the little things I’ve become accustomed to.
Fast tablet mode switching & System Settings access
This one is handy if you have a touch-enabled device. To switch between tablet and KB/Mouse modes, you can simply click on the Notification widget in the system tray and select or deselect “Tablet Mode”. Other options include display settings, media connect and System settings. This is another small item that is more helpful than I expected.
This isn’t new to Build 10041 of Windows 10, but I haven’t covered it before. The new System Settings is actually quite useful and well presented. The presentation comes down to a few small details such as the fact that most of the settings you would want to change are only 2 or 3 mouse clicks away from your desktop. Fewer short hops to get where you are going is a win!
Another win is the auto-scaling of the list entries based on window size – it’s little things like this that show the attention to detail that I hope will continue and carry over into the final product.
Different OSes call them different things, but when all is said and done they’re largely the same thing. The fact that it took Microsoft until 2015 to add virtual desktops baffles me, but now that they’re here I welcome them into the fold of virtual desktop-enabled OSes. Windows, this is Linux, BSD, and OS X; everyone say “Hi” to Windows.
This is the biggest “killer app” Build 10041 brings to the table, for me. I make judicious use of virtual desktops on my Linux and OS X machines. My workflows are such that having access to virtual desktops just makes life easier for me. I hop between tasks a lot and since I mentally compartmentalize my tasks, it helps me stay organized to have designated virtual desktops that house specific applications or documents based on content.
The way this streamlines my own personal productivity inside of Windows really cannot be overstated.
My one gripe about how this has been implemented is a lack of quick desktop changing. (If there is a way and I’m simply not seeing it, please for the love of all that is good and right, let me know in the comments.) What I want is the ability to hit CTRL-ALT-1, CTRL-ALT-2, CTRL-ALT-3 or some such key combo to switch directly to the virtual desktops I have assigned. I have used this functionality in Linux for years and want it in Windows.
With that said, using the Virtual Desktops feature is quite welcome and long overdue.
Updated Start Menu
The transparency effect that was added to the Start Menu in this
build is a small touch that adds to the overall appeal of the user experience. I’m not sure why it does, but it adds something. I like the fact that the Start Menu has returned largely to its former visual weight. I say largely, because it’s not the svelte Start Menu of days gone by, but it’s a much less obtrusive interface than the “All Touch, All The Time!” one that came with Windows 8.
All things being equal, the Metro Start Menu makes sense on phones and tablets, it just never made sense on a non-touch desktop machine. I find this to be a decent balance between the two; unifying the experience without alienating the desktop user. This update builds a bridge between the Windows 7 Start Menu and the Windows 10 Start Menu of touch devices, staying familiar enough to Win7 users and introducing the touch elements of Win10 for mobile and touch-enabled devices. I get what the team is trying to accomplish here and largely think that they’ve achieved that goal.
Inactive Window Scrolling
This is a tiny feature of Build 10041 which is quite useful when working with multiple documents and information. Inactive window scrolling, as the name implies, allows you to scroll through content in a background window. I have been finding this useful for blog content generation as I reference my notes and other information sources.
This concludes part 2 of the Windows 10 Build 10041 Deep Dive, so far things look pretty solid. In the next post we’ll look at a few of the bumps and warts discovered during daily use of the system.
Update: Part 3 has been posted, you can find it here.