Windows 10 Consumer Preview: Here’s what Windows Insiders can expect in 2015

Zac Bowden

Windows 10

It was announced recently that no more Windows 10 builds would be issued to Windows Insiders this year, and that the program will resume in early 2015. That leaves over a month and a half between now and the next publicly available build, so what can we expect to see in early 2015?

Since the launch of the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft has introduced us to a new Start Menu, windowed Modern UI apps and many more awesome desktop-like features. The whole point of the Windows Technical Preview at this stage was to show Enterprises that Windows is still a viable desktop operating system, as well as receive feedback from Windows Insiders regarding the desktop as a whole.

Internally, Microsoft is considering this a success. Over 200,000 bits of feedback has been submitted by Windows Insiders, and Enterprises are happy with the direction in which Windows 10 is heading. So what’s the next step for Microsoft and its development journey with Windows 10? Consumers.

The consumer side of Windows 10

The new year should see Microsoft talking more about the consumer side of Windows 10, and we’re expecting to see a consumer-orientated preview which runs on desktops, tablets and phones. Windows Insiders should start receiving new builds in January/February, and these new builds will be packed with new features for every kind of device. Microsoft should introduce Windows Phone 10 too and talk about its many new features.

Windows 10

What kind of features are we going to see in the Windows 10 Consumer Preview? Well considering this preview is designed for more than one form factor, we should get to play with Continuum and the brand new Start Screen. In the most recent Windows Technical Preview build, an early version of the Start Screen is enable-able, meaning Microsoft is getting close to releasing it to Windows Insiders officially.

Many are awaiting the appearance of Cortana, the Microsoft personal-assistant which currently runs on Windows Phone. It’s currently unclear when Cortana is set to appear in public builds, we know that Cortana is working in internal builds of the operating system, we just don’t know when Microsoft plan to release her publicly. It’s possible that Microsoft will unveil her alongside the Consumer Preview, but hold off on her release until BUILD in April, but now we’re treading into the speculation zone.

On the desktop side of things, WinBeta understands that an updated UI and more “modernized” icons are on the way. By the time Windows 10 is released, we should have a whole batch of new icons, with the old ones nowhere in-sight. In the most recent builds (989x), the recycle bin, and many others have been updated. Regarding the updated UI, it’s currently unclear what this entails. We understand that Microsoft has been thinking about introducing some form of transparency effect to the UI in Windows 10, but considering those plans aren’t concrete, we’re not holding our breath just yet.

Windows 10 Live Tile Desktop Concept

We also understand that live-tiles on the desktop are set to make an appearance at some point during development, at the very latest sometime around BUILD. You can already create shortcuts to Modern UI apps on the desktop by simply dragging the app from the Start Menu and dropping it on your desktop. In upcoming builds, doing the same thing will result in the actual live-tile of the app being placed to the desktop, much like Gadgets used to work.

The Notification Center should see some more enhancements, as Action Center is set to make an appearance in newer builds. Of course, the Notification Center will also make an appearance within the touch-UI too. And of course, Internet Explorer 12 and Office for touch are both set to make an appearance at some point in 2015.

So, that’s just a small snippet as to what’s coming for Windows Insiders. Of course, all the features listed here won’t show up immediately, but will be scattered across a number of upcoming builds. Also, we doubt this is everything coming in Windows 10, we imagine more features and tweaks are in the pipeline before Windows 10 RTMs in the Summer of 2015. Expect Microsoft to have an event/announcement at the beginning of 2015 detailing the many consumer-features of Windows 10, and will be expecting a heap-load of more feedback to be submitted by you, the Windows Insiders.