This past week Microsoft has been hosting developers from around the world at their annual BUILD developer conference in downtown Seattle. The event had keynotes on Monday and Tuesday then a broad range of sessions on all three days. To cap off the three day event, Windows Insiders received a new build on Wednesday, Build 171666, that introduced some of the features announced during BUILD. We even get to start checking out the Cloud-Powered Clipboard a year after its initial demo at BUILD 2017.
I guess you could call it the BUILD-BUILD – thanks to @TheRichWoods for that name!
According to the release notes for this build, which went to both the Skip Ahead and Fast Rings for Redstone 5, there is plenty new in this build to check out.
Here is a quick rundown:
- Sets is getting some visual updates with additional acrylic effects on the title bar and Sets you have used now show up in Timeline. You can scan through the tabs you have in that Set and easily re-open that project right from the Timeline with all your tabs ready to go.
- Tabs in Sets now show up as individual entries when you use the ALT + TAB keyboard shortcut to look at open apps/programs. Previously it was just the initial tab that showed up.
- You can now select whether new tabs in a Set open in a new tab or a separate window.
- Web tabs in a Set can now be muted just like in Microsoft Edge.
- Cloud-Powered Clipboard after being announced a year ago at BUILD 2017 has now made its way into RS5. See below for my take on the initial experience of using this awesome feature.
- File Explorer gets a Dark Theme. It is not complete as you will see by the screenshot below but continued changes in current private builds shows that work almost done. This change also effects the Common File Dialog. Right now the Dark Mode for File Explorer is tied to the system default. That is selected in Windows Settings > Personalization > Colors > Choose your default app mode.
- Notepad now works properly with Linux Line Feeds.
- Highlight a term in a Notepad document you are working on and you can search Bing for that term from the right click context menu.
- Now when you search on Windows 10 RS5 you will see previews of documents to help you identify the file you are looking for. Such information as file location, last modified, and author will be displayed in the search results.
- You can now name tiled folders on the Start Menu. Tiled folders contain multiple shortcuts to apps and help you organize your Start Menu. The name works with all tile sizes plus it remains persistent and visible when you open those folders.
One of the BUILD 2018 related announcements you will not see in this build is Your Phone. This was announced by Joe Belfiore during the Day Two keynote. This app will give you direct access to your mobile device to handle messages, notifications, and images. The app was discovered in the Microsoft Store about 10 days ago however, the backend/system level necessities will not be turned on for a couple more weeks according to those I spoke with from Microsoft.
One feature that I spent a lot of time with was the Cloud-Powered Clipboard. Now this feature was not mentioned during the Microsoft 365 keynote however, in a couple of different side sessions it did come up. Some attending a Fluent Design session saw a context menu in an animation that showed Cloud-Powered Clipboard as a target from that menu. Then in a session I attended at almost the same time unrelated to Cloud-Powered Clipboard, it was about Sets and Timeline, teased at the end of the session that the feature was very, very close. It helped that one of the presenters was the PM on the Cloud-Powered Clipboard team as well!
Anyway, I spent some time yesterday poking around the Cloud-Powered Clipboard and have a few hot takes to share.
First – pay attention to the release notes because there is a key caveat about this early version of the Cloud-Powered Clipboard.
Note: Roamed text on the clipboard is only supported for clipboard content less than 100kb. Currently, the clipboard history supports plain text, HTML and image less than 1MB.
This is critical right now because 1MB images are not very large for today’s standards. A screenshot of most desktops are almost 3MB.
Second – when Cloud-Powered Clipboard was announced last year there were a lot of concerns raised about passwords. Many people use copy/paste to grab their password from various password managers and then paste them into a login dialog box. Understandably users do not want these snippets of text being synched across devices.
Microsoft thought of this and there is an option in Windows Settings > System > Clipboard to turn off automatic synching of text that you copy. Two choices are available – Automatically sync text that I copy or Never automatically sync text that I copy.
If you select the last option, there is still a manual ability to select text based items in the Cloud-Powered Clipboard dialog, accessed with the keyboard shortcut WINDOWS KEY + V, to manually sync those items to other supported devices. Yes, this requires a little effort but for now it keeps your copied passwords from floating in between devices.
Third – items in your Cloud-Powered Clipboard are not persistent between reboots of your device. The only exception is if they are pinned.
Fourth – If you pin an item on one device and it syncs to other devices it is not persistent on those devices unless you pin it there as well. (Added on 11 May 2018)
Check out the collection of screenshots below. You will see the options for items in your clipboard that allow you to pin or sync your item.
Of course, this is just the first iteration of the Cloud-Powered Clipboard. I expect it will get some enhancements along the way. Some of the things other have mentioned to me on Twitter is a folder system to store pinned items. The other one is integration with Swift Keyboard for sharing clipboard items from mobile devices.
I am very excited to see where the development of this Cloud-Powered Clipboard goes from here. It may seem like a small thing but I believe it is going to help many to greater productivity.
Windows 10 Redstone 5 Build 17666 Screenshots Including Cloud-Powered Clipboard