Microsoft has kept its promise to release an updated version of the Windows 10 operating system it shared more details about earlier this week. Starting today, users can download Windows 10 Technical Preview 9926, the very latest version ready for public testing.
Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 10 9926 this morning in a post on its Windows Insider news blog. Starting right now members of the Windows Insider Program can download Windows 10 9926 directly from the devices they’ve already loaded with a previous version of the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Those who don’t have a previous version installed already can still get the update too. They’ll just have to first join the Windows Insider Program and download the update to a flash drive or hard drive.
Included in Windows 10 9926 is the first publically available version of Cortana for Windows, Microsoft’s digital personal assistant. It was Cortana that Microsoft focused a lot on during its Windows 10 Media Briefing earlier this week. Think of Cortana as a default replacement for Windows 8.1’s Bing SmartSearch. Cortana sits in the taskbar where Windows 10 users can type their searches for files and settings on their device. Additionally, Cortana is capable of searching the web. Users can type their searches and commands or simply say them by enabling Cortana’s always listening technology.
Windows 10’s biggest feature is the new Start Menu and Continuum, the system that allows users to switch between a user interface that’s more-touch friendly Start Screen and the less touch-friendly Start Menu from previous versions of Windows. In fact, the bright and flat user interface Microsoft showed had hinted at in past versions of Windows is in Windows 10 9926 too. Settings is one of the areas directly benefiting from this new design.
In Windows 8.1 Microsoft added the ability for devices to connect directly to wireless audio and video systems like Miracast when there’s a receiver on the same network. Microsoft has added easier to find Miracast options in the Action Center notification area in Windows 10 9926.
Universal Apps are a big part of Microsoft’s future. They’re how the company hopes to simply its operating systems for users and developers. There are a number of updated Universal Apps available in the Windows 10 9926 download. A beta of the Windows Store is included. Joining the Windows Store are new Universal versions of Maps and Photos.
Finally, Microsoft has thrown in the new Xbox Universal app it showed off at the Windows 10 Media Briefing. It’s this app that brings Xbox DVR clip recording, and better connectivity with Xbox Live. At the event Microsoft showed off Xbox One game streaming so that users can play their Xbox One titles with their computer as long as they’re on the same network. Reports indicate that this functionality isn’t available yet, which is slightly disappointing. Still, what’s available in this app is already miles ahead of what’s available in the Xbox app for Windows 8.1.
Microsoft is tailoring the Windows 10 operating system to be its answer for most problems plaguing the Windows ecosystem today. It’s gone back and made changes based on user feedback, that’s why the Start Menu is back for certain devices. It’s also include upgrades where it makes sense. Some of its most troublesome and basic apps have been upgraded and restyled.
Microsoft plans to release a final version of Windows 10 later this year. When it does, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and Windows Phone 8.1 users will be able to upgrade free of charge, provided their machine has a legal copy of Windows already.