​Windows 10: Microsoft reveals new features to guard against crashes and give firms more control

Latest updates to test builds of the OS showcase improvements heading to Windows 10 in Spring.


Improved reliability: Microsoft shows how ungrouped system processes will look inside Task Manager.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has unveiled new features for Windows 10 that should make the OS more resilient against crashes and reduce the risk of unwanted restarts for businesses.

The changes will hit Windows 10 in Spring next year, but have been pushed out to some of those testing Windows 10 under the Insider Program, with the release of Build 14942 on Friday.

In this latest build, Microsoft has changed how Windows 10 handles system processes, so that if part of the system fails it is less likely to take down other parts of the OS.

In PCs with more than 3.5GB of memory, the majority of system processes will no longer be grouped together into an overarching process called a service host. The side effect of bundling up processes in this way was that when one of the system processes within the service host crashed, all other process in that host were terminated.

Ungrouping process should therefore result in increased reliability for the OS, according to Dona Sarkar, software engineer for Microsoft's Windows and devices group.

The change will also allow users to see how much CPU, memory, disk and network bandwidth each process is consuming in Task Manager.

Ungrouping services seemingly results in Windows 10 using more memory, as the feature will only be enabled in machines with more than 3.5GB. Xbox sign-ins may also fail as a result of the change, with Microsoft outlining a registry hack to fix any problems here.

SEE: Windows 10: The smart person's guide

Another tweak improves on Active Hours, a feature introduced with the recent Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Active Hours allows users to set the hours when they typically use the machine, and during this time Windows 10 won't automatically reboot to install an update.

In the latest build Microsoft has extended the maximum time period for Active Hours from 12 to 18 hours, although only for users of the Pro, Enterprise and Education editions.

"We want to accommodate various enterprise environments and schedules including those where employees have double shifts," said Sarkar.

The default range for Active Hours can also be configured via new group and Mobile Device Management policies.

In another move to give users a bit more control, apps that came pre-installed with Windows 10 but have been uninstalled by users or deprovisioned by an IT admin will now not be reinstalled by future upgrades.

The Start Menu is also a bit more customisable, with the ability to collapse the menu's app list by going to Settings > Personalization > Start and turning on Hide app list in Start menu.

Gesture and click detection is also improved on precision touchpads. Microsoft says the changes should make the system better at distinguishing between left and right clicks, make two finger taps easier, improve pinch to zoom detection and reduce inadvertent zooming when panning.

The Edge browser gets support for encoding and playback of H.264/AVC video in communications via RTC. Other changes in the test build include improved navigation in the built-in Photos app and improvements to the text reading Narrator service.

Microsoft is also working on an updated version of Paint for Windows 10, which will allow users to more easily create 3D objects, to add stickers to their creations and access a store of user-created 3D models. The app is only available to those testing its alpha build at the moment, although it may be shown off at a Windows 10 event on October 26.

The firm has also been criticised for issuing some buggy patches for Windows 10 of late. On Thursday last week Microsoft released a script to fix the endless reboot problem, which was affecting some PCs after applying a recent update.

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