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From the new preview version of Windows 10 to its new Spartan browser, Microsoft Windows made a lot of headlines over the past week. Here’s the snapshot of its week.

It’s been a busy week for Microsoft, as many things revealed and puzzled over the week. The first, Windows 10 gets its newest technical preview build 10041 with more fine edges, fixing shortcomings of the earlier build.

On Wednesday, Microsoft released a new technical preview of Windows 10 for Windows Insiders. The build 10041 is being pushed via Windows Update, and no official ISOs have made available yet. FYI, the new build is only available for select Windows Insiders who have chosen the Fast ring that allows testers to receive more frequently test builds from Redmond servers.

Windows 10 Update Advanced Options

Although, there’s no new build of Windows 10 for phones; Microsoft pointed out that they were working on a newer build for phones, and Windows Insiders would have to wait — a bit more — for that.

The build 10041 was compiled on Friday, March 13th, 2015, which clearly indicates the Windows developers are hard at work to keep their promise to release a new build more often to all Fast ring Insiders. Moreover, the Slow ring Insiders will also be getting the new build – and may be in ISO formats too as per our close sources – once the build passes the Fast ring.

What’s new in Windows 10 Technical Preview build 10041

Windows 10 build 10041 brings some of the new and improved features, and obviously with less rough edges. Microsoft has improved its XAML based Start menu by introducing transparency and fine-tuned visual changes.

Windows 10 Build 10041 - Start

The build also improves the usability of virtual desktops (Task View). Now Cortana adds support for new languages including Chinese, English UK, French, Italian, German, and Spanish.

The new build introduces a new fly-out panel – far from the final UX – to manage Wi-Fi network, which was already shown in the leaked build 10036.

Windows 10 Network fly-out panel

In other remedies, it includes new recognition system for handwriting, a new Lock Screen and various improvements to the Windows Feedback app and Insider Hub app such filters, ‘Me too’ functionality, feedback progress and votes to track missions Windows Insiders have completed.

Windows 10 Feedback App

In addition, the Photo app now supports RAW files.

Some top issues fixed in this build

  • In 9926, there were several issues which prevented Start from launching, these should all be fixed.
  • Search box now works if you have the taskbar on the top/side of your screen.
  • After installing the last build (9926), a boot selection menu appeared when you rebooted your PC. The issue is fixed now, and you should no longer see the boot selection menu – unless you’re intentionally dual-booting.
  • Persistent grey thumbnails in the Collection view in the Photos app on Build 9926 has been fixed.

Windows Hello

Earlier this week, Microsoft also announced Windows Hello – a biometric authentication which can provide instant access to your Windows 10 devices using your face, iris, or fingerprint. While, most of the existing Windows devices won’t be able to leverage the Windows Hello’s face authentication feature, however, Microsoft will support the fingerprint readers, available on the market today.

To use face, iris recognition, Microsoft OEM partners will ship Windows 10 devices with Intel RealSense 3D Camera (F200). The infrared camera will also support automatic sign-in to Windows, and unlocking “Passport” without the need for a PIN.

In such new sign-in methods, there’re no privacy issues as Joe Belfiore detailed in a blog post, “Windows Hello offers enterprise-grade security that will meet the requirements of organizations with some of the strictest requirements and regulations.” In fact, the biometric authentication doesn’t transmit the images of fingerprints or iris via Internet, but rather uses asymmetric encryption keys to authenticate users remotely.

Windows 10 Release Date and Availability

Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Operating Systems announced on Tuesday, at WinHEC Summit in Shenzhen, China that Windows 10 would debut this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages. However, the announcement doesn’t reveal any exact date but sets a timeline for Windows 10 development under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella. It’s expected that Microsoft will sign off Windows 10 RTM as soon as June 2015.

Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade – during the first year after launch – for all users running genuine and non-genuine versions of Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1. However, there’s a catch! Non-genuine systems will remain non-genuine after the Windows 10 upgrade as they won’t get a valid license like genuine systems.

During WinHEC 2015, Microsoft also announced several strategic partnerships with Lenovo, Tencent and Qihu 360, which will help the Redmond giant to reach and upgrade to Windows 10 “hundreds of millions of customers” in China. In particular, Lenovo will offer Windows 10 upgrade services at 2,500 service centers and select retail stores in China whereas Tencent will also offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade of its customers. In addition, Tencent also agreed to develop a “Windows 10 universal app for their flagship QQ app, which has over 800 million customers in China, and bring their most popular PC games, such as League of Legends, Cross Fire and Dungeon & Fighter to Windows 10 and the new Windows Store.”

On the mobile front, Microsoft has partnered with Xiaomi, and maybe some Windows phones by Xiaomi are imminent. Moreover, select users of Xiaomi Mi 4 will reportedly test the preview versions of Windows 10 for phones, which also signals its Windows counterparts this summer.

Finally, Terry also reiterated Windows 10’s key features and its diverse version for IoT devices powered by Raspberry Pi, Intel, Qualcomm and others.

Hence, Microsoft has officially triggered the launch countdown of Windows 10 for desktops, and we may see a range of new devices including Surface Pro 4.

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