The Windows 10 release cycle and potential new features revealed

Greg Shultz examines the current state of the Windows 10 release cycle and then takes a look at some potential new features.

Windows 10 release cycle

As you may recall, when Microsoft began the Windows 10 Technical Preview program, they were telling users that rather than three to six months between new test builds, we would encounter something more along the lines of a one month turnaround. With the initial release of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, Build 9841, being on September 30, 2014, followed by Build 9860 on October 21, and Build 9879 on November 12, we were off to a great start -- around three weeks between each release. Between Build 9879 and Build 9926, we had to wait about 10 weeks, but that was over the holidays, and Microsoft warned us ahead of time that there would be a long lapse.

As of this writing, it has been close to eight weeks since Build 9926 arrived. In other words, if Microsoft had been able to keep up with their rapid release schedule, we should have been using a post-9926 build of Windows 10 for around four weeks now. Alas, that isn't the case.

According to a recent tweet by Gabriel Aul, of Microsoft's Windows Insider program, the Windows 10 developers have been battling one bug that's preventing them from releasing another build to the Fast ring of the Windows Insider program. In addition, he added a post on the Blogging Windows site titled "Frequency and predictability of builds for Windows Insiders," where he talks about the build and release cycle for Windows 10.

Despite Microsoft's slack, Build 10036 unofficially leaked onto the web this past weekend and is revealing some potential new features in Windows 10. Since we can't get our hands on an official new build of Windows 10, I thought that I'd take a look at a couple of these new features that will probably show up in the next official build -- whenever that may be. Oh, and before I move on here, I should point out that Aul also tweeted that 10036 will not be the next official build.

While there's no guarantee that these features will be in the next build, it makes sense that they'll eventually be a part of Windows 10.

Task view enhancements

As you may remember, back in November of 2014, I wrote about Windows 10's virtual desktop feature called Task View. While I was very impressed with Task View at that time, I wrote that it had a very basic feature set that I imagined would be added to in the future. Well, according to those who downloaded and installed Build 10036, Task View has two new features worth noting.

First, in the current builds of Windows 10, all desktops share the same Taskbar. The only way to tell which buttons are which on the Taskbar is by a very subtle overlay. Taskbar buttons of applications running on the current desktop have a translucent overlay on top of them. With Taskbar buttons of applications that are running on a different desktop, you'll see that the translucent overlay actually appears below the button's icon. While that works, it's not very intuitive.

In Build 10036, you have the option to configure Task view to only show buttons on the Taskbar for applications that are open on a particular the desktop. In other words, each desktop has its own Taskbar. This feature will really make it easier to take advantage of using multiple desktops to keep your work separated.

Second, in the current builds of Windows 10, using the [Alt]+[Tab] keyboard shortcut will cycle through all open applications, regardless of which desktop they are on. In Build 10036, you have the option to configure Task view to only cycle through the open applications on the current desktop. Again, this will make it easier to take advantage of using multiple desktops to keep your work separated.

Transparent Start Screen

In the current builds of Windows 10, the Start Menu looks like Microsoft has basically grafted the Start Screen onto the Start Menu. On the left side of the menu, you'll find all your applications and links to items that have traditionally been on right side. On the right side of the menu is a fly-out panel designed for the Modern App tiles, including Live Tiles. In Build 10036, as in Build 9926, you can maximize expand the Start Menu to full screen mode. When you do, you get the impression that the Start Menu has been grafted onto the Start Screen. However, the Start Screen in Build 10036 is translucent.

What's your take?

What's your take on the current state of the Windows 10 release cycle? What do you think about these potential new features? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

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By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.