Microsoft is currently readying an updated preview of Windows 10 to focus on the consumer features of the upcoming operating system. While the company plans to detail those improvements at a January press event, a consumer build (9901) has leaked out onto the web today to provide an early look at the various changes Microsoft is making.
The biggest new feature since the recent technical preview is the addition of Cortana. A video demonstration leaked earlier this month, but the build itself shows how Cortana sits at the top of the search interface for Windows 10, responding to text and voice commands. It’s all very similar to the Windows Phone version, as you’d expect, with access to the notebook, reminders, and interests. It’s not entirely functional, but it’s a very early look at the digital assistant in Windows 10 so the final version will likely change significantly.
Elsewhere there’s also a new Xbox app. It appears to act as a gateway to the entire Xbox ecosystem, including access to achievements, friends lists, activity feeds, and the Store. Microsoft notes that it’s an early preview of the app, so it may well include SmartGlass integration in future. It’s also a first glimpse at how the software maker is designing its native Windows 10 apps, and the calculator app has been updated in a similar way.
Microsoft has also added new animations to the TaskView switcher in Windows 10, and the company appears to be moving towards removing the traditional Control Panel by updating the settings app with a familiar view that’s similar to Control Panel. The settings button has also been removed from the Charms Bar, demonstrating that Microsoft is clearly focusing on improving access to settings with Windows 10.
The Windows Store in Windows 10 build 9901 has also been tweaked thanks to a new beta app that’s built-in. Unlike the current store, music and film / TV shows are included alongside apps and games. This could mean Microsoft is closer to integrating its Xbox Music and Xbox Video stores into the main Windows Store to offer all content in a single location.