Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14986 for PC arrives on the Fast ring, introduces many new features

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New Insider Preview builds of the forthcoming Windows 10 Creators Update have been arriving on the Fast ring on a weekly basis. There was a gap over thanksgiving (naturally), and last week a blocking bug on the PC version meant that Build 14977 was only made available for Mobile.

This week it’s back to normal, with a new build for PC rolling out on the Fast ring, and the wait has definitely been worth it as Build 14986 comes packed with lots of new features and improvements. This is the most exciting new build in quite some time. Windows Insider Chief Dona Sarkar uses her Twitter account to tease new build numbers, and this week our very own Brian Fagioli provided the all important clue.

SEE ALSO: Windows 10 Creators Update will offer more advanced security features

Build 14986 adds some big new features to Cortana, including the ability to control your PC with your voice. You can now use the personal assistant to shut down, restart or lock your PC and raise or lower the volume. Cortana can also control music playback on iHeartRadio and TuneIn Radio apps (only available in US English for now).

The new build introduces music recognition support to Chinese (Simplified), and a smart full screen mode for Cortana. When your PC is unlocked and idle, saying "Hey Cortana" will open and after a few seconds (with no further input from you) switch to this mode which is designed for far field viewing. It's a handy addition as you'll now be able to use Cortana from across the room.

Windows Ink gains new functionality in this build -- you can resume previous screen sketches, the flyout visuals have been improved, and the cursor will no longer be shown while you’re inking.

Elsewhere in the new build there’s a new Enterprise Cloud Printers discovery UI for business users (you'll find this under Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners), and improved full-screen support for the Windows Game Bar. The Anniversary Update added support for six full screen games, and this build adds support for 19 more, including Battlefield 1, Fallout 4, Overwatch, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Edge gains three new extensions -- Ebates, Intel TrueKey, and Read & Write -- improvements have been made to the Narrator, the Windows Defender dashboard has been given a makeover, and new keyboard shortcuts have been added to the registry editor.

Microsoft has also improved the update process, giving users greater control over when updates are applied, and made it easier to free up space on a nearly full disk in order to download and install updates.

SEE ALSO: How to change Windows 10's taskbar color, but leave the Start menu and Action Center untouched

Other changes, improvements, and fixes for PC include:

  • Improved the Windows Hello face which may require you to "Improve Recognition" to get recognized again. To do this go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in Options and under "Windows Hello" and "Face Recognition", select "Improve Recognition" to go through the Improve Recognition wizard.
  • Updated the Taskbar’s context menu settings entry to now explicitly be called "Taskbar settings", as that is where it pointed.
  • Fixed an issue where the Virtual Touchpad’s left and right buttons might not work on some devices. Also fixed an issue where the Virtual Touchpad wouldn’t launch if the primary monitor was non-touch, and added the Virtual Touchpad icon to the Taskbar settings where you can Turn system icons on or off.
  • Fixed the issue where apps such as Store, Photos, and People might launch on their own after your PC had been inactive for a period of time.
  • Fixed the issue where navigating to Settings > System > Battery would crash the Settings app.
  • Changed the default state of the Handwriting Panel to be floating next to the text field, rather than docked at the bottom of the screen. If you prefer docked-mode, you can still select it by tapping the icon in the top right corner of the Handwriting Panel.
  • Fixed an issue where using ~ to switch languages using the Thai keyboard when typing in Office apps, such as Outlook or Word 2016, might sometimes result in a hang.
  • Updated the migration logic, so that going forward from 14986 the default user’s numlock setting will now be preserved across upgrades.
  • Fixed an issue where double-clicking on an Excel document to open it from File Explorer would crash Microsoft Excel.
  • Fixed an issue where Windows Hello might get stuck "Looking for you".
  • Fixed an issue Insiders with Surface Dial may have experienced recently where rotating the Dial could result in unexpected beeps.
  • Moving some things around in Storage Settings. For this flight, you’ll notice that the settings to change save locations has moved to its own page.
  • Fixed an issue where the PowerShell entry in File Explorer’s File menu would sometimes be unexpectedly grayed out.
  • Fixed an issue where the Clock and Calendar flyout in the taskbar wouldn’t launch when the display language was set to Chinese (Traditional) and the system was using the phonetic sorting method.
  • Updated the full screen Settings search results to now use smaller icons.
  • Fixed an issue where some notifications might draw too high or too low, and then be seen moving itself to the correct position.
  • Fixed an issue where the outline incoming notification toasts could still be seen if notification banners as a whole for that particular app had been turned off.
  • Fixed an issue Insiders may have experienced where the Favorites bar on desktop might appear empty, despite having items in the Favorites folder.
  • Fixed an issue that could result in CPU throttling when idling on certain webpages with many GIFs or looping videos in Microsoft Edge.
  • Fixed an issue that could result in Alt + D sometimes not being able to set focus to the address bar in Microsoft Edge.
  • For Insiders with PCs that upgraded to builds 14926-14959, some default power settings may have been lost and not recovered on subsequent upgrades. The effect of this causes devices to potentially use more power, change the power button behavior on tablets, etc. Starting with 14986, an attempt to detect this issue and re-apply the power settings will be made during upgrade. This attempt is a temporary process to help address this issue for Insiders, and will be removed when closer to the Creators Update release.
  • Updated the Windows Error Reporting logic so that uploading crash data should no longer interfere with online game play, video streaming, Skype calls, or other network-intensive activity.
  • Fixed an issue resulting in Microsoft Studios games like Microsoft Sudoku, Jigsaw, Minesweeper, Taptiles, and Treasure Hunt potentially freezing at the splash screen on launch.
  • Fixed an issue where, if the taskbar location was set to be on top, it was visible on the Welcome screens after upgrading.

Known issues for PC include:

  • Using keyboard monitor hotkeys to adjust brightness won’t work as expected. Desired brightness change could be done via the Action Center or by going to Settings > System > Display.
  • You may see a popup "Catastrophic Error" dialog when opening OneDrive folders. If you do, the workaround is to open an elevated Command Prompt or PowerShell window and enter "attrib -O <path to OneDrive failure that resulted in the error dialog>".
  • Microsoft is currently investigating reports that DirectAccess isn’t working for some Windows Insiders.
  • When using Microsoft Edge with Narrator, you may hear “no item in view or silence when tabbing or using other navigation commands. You can use Alt + Tab when this happens to move focus away from and back to the Edge browser and then Narrator will read as expected.
  • Hey Cortana, play <blah> on <AppName> doesn’t work immediately after installing the app. Wait 5 minutes for indexer to kick in and try again.
  • Currently, the Windows Defender dashboard is primarily aimed at providing some minimal read-only status for Antivirus/Firewall, with some very limited functionality for interacting with the app. Here are some of the known issues with the dashboard to be aware of (not a comprehensive list):
    • Doesn’t accurately roll up status of Pillars
    • Doesn’t accurately show status when a 3P AV is on the machine.
    • History is not yet available in the new app
    • Advanced/Custom scans are not yet available in the new app
    • Settings are not configurable through the new app
    • Firewall control panel not launchable from new app
    • Firewall settings are not configurable through the new app

Photo credit: charnsitr / Shutterstock

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