This week Microsoft has made Windows 10 Redstone 5 Build 17713 available to its cadre of Windows Insiders in the Fast Ring for testing. The build marks a step in the process that signals the beginning of the end for this feature updates development heading towards its release later this year.
We have been through this sequence of events before with past development cycles and there is no reason to expect Redstone 5 to be any different.
As they detailed in the release notes for this build, 17713 has now been forked off the RS_PRERELEASE code branch and is the first build in the RS5_RELEASE branch. That means we are headed in that phase of development that begins to focus on the stability of the overall code for this update. Although it does not necessarily signal that this update is now feature complete, we are quickly approaching that point. Adding new code in late in the cycle could introduce instability. Of course, that is the exact opposite effect they are now working towards with Redstone 5.
Another big announcement that was made in conjunction with the release of this build relates to the Skip Ahead ring.
As a reminder, the Skip Ahead ring allows early stage pre-release builds of the next feature update, the one which follows Redstone 5, to be made available to a limited number of testers. This occurs during the stabilization phase of the current development cycle. For Redstone 5, there were a total of nine Skip Ahead builds made available prior to the completion of Redstone 4.
Microsoft plans to do the same thing with the next feature update for Windows 10, this one is expected next Spring, but they are going to reset the entire rings membership first and allow new signups. As of Build 17713 there is no longer a Skip Ahead ring and Microsoft will announce later when they are opening up the chance to get in the next cycle of Skip Ahead membership.
So with that all said, there are some new additions with this latest build so here is a quick rundown:
- Per-site media autoplay controls
- Look up definitions for words in Reading View, Books and PDFs
- Improved toolbar options for PDF Reader
- Pin/Unpin PDF Toolbar
- Improved rendering performance
- Wrap-around find/replace improvements
- Text Zooming
- Line Numbers with Word-Wrap
- Improved performance when opening large files
- Ctrl + Backspace keyboard shortcut for deleting previous word
- Azure Active Directory and Active Directory users on Windows Hello can use biometrics to authenticate into a remote desktop session
In addition web-sign in has been added to Windows 10 for non-ADFS federated providers and signing into a shared PC has been improved with the addition of a Fast Sign-In option that speeds that process up.
Updates to the UI for Windows Defender Application Guard have been made inside the Windows Security settings. Stand alone users on compatible systems will be able to install WDAG from within Windows Security plus Enterprise users will be able to see what admins have configured for their system policies.
Finally, the inking experience with the new embedded handwriting panel received some work and is now the default text entry option inside of modern applications when you are in inking mode.
There are 12 highlighted changes and improvements in the release notes for various issues that had been previously discovered. On the known issues list you will find the bug I told you about in Build 17711 that was released last Friday – it has kind of become known as the “…” bug – and a fix is in the works as I understand it however, it is still present in 17113.
It is hard to believe we are in the final weeks of Redstone 5’s development cycle. We have seen Sets come and go in this development cycle but we do have new features like the Cloud-Powered Clipboard that seems to be doing well and will likely make its way into the final release. It also appears that Screen Sketch, the new app and tools for capturing elements of your screen has also progressed well and should make the final list of updates for RS5.
One feature that was discussed at Build 2018 and that we are yet to see actively in RS5 builds is Your Phone. This is the app for Windows 10 that will give you access to messaging, notifications and images on your linked smart phone. This concerns me however, I am looking at it like this – Your Phone is an app. Apps get developed and previewed alongside Windows 10 all the time and Your Phone will likely take the same approach. When Microsoft demoed it at Build 2018 they did not commit to a specific feature update for this capability – something they don’t do these days for any additions to feature updates less they get coverage that says they cut things from a release.
So I still expect Your Phone is going to make its debut soon and the fact that we are moving into the stabilization phase of RS5’s development should not hamper that from the app perspective.
Do you have any favorite features in Redstone 5 at this point?