It's just one week before Build, and everybody and his brother is predicting Microsoft will release a new version of the Windows 10 Technical Preview as part of the festivities. Nonetheless, on Wednesday afternoon, Windows 10 build 10061 appeared.
Here you will find our overview of Windows 10 to date -- what's in the bits, what's lacking, what we'd like to see in the final version -- incorporating what we just found in build 10061. If you don't have the time -- or the interest -- to keep up with the details, this report will keep you posted on how things stand. Like, right now. And we'll update it as Microsoft fleshes out more of Windows 10.
If you decide to install and test build 10061, beware the many disclosed bugs, and many more lurking. Be sure to read Microsoft spokesman Gabe Aul's disclaimers in his Blogging Windows post. I found build 10061 to be very crash-prone, in many situations.
The Windows 10 Start menu, with Windows 7-like links on the left and Windows 8-like tiles on the right, has a few new coloring and transparency options. The Power link has been moved so it's just above the Start button.
Where the Start menu stands
There are a few customizing options -- for example, you can drag entries onto the pinned list in the top left, or drag items from the list on the left and turn them into tiles on the right. Tiles on the right can be resized to Small (see the three on the bottom right), Medium, Wide (two single-size slots, as with the Project Spartan, Music, and Video tiles in the upper right), and Large (Money). You can click and drag, group, and ungroup tiles on the right, and give groups custom names.
You can resize the Start menu. You can adjust it vertically in small increments, but trying to drag things the other way is limited to big swaths of tiles: Groups of tiles remain four wide, and you can only add or remove entire columns. You can drag tiles from the right side of the Start screen onto the desktop for easy access.
While it's possible to manually remove all the tiles on the right (right-click each, then choose Unpin from Start), the big area for tiles doesn't shrink beyond one column.
Transparency on the Start menu and task bar are "On/Off" settings, with not much showing through when "On." You can stick with a black background on the Start menu, as shown, or opt to have Windows pull a color from your desktop.
What's likely to appear
Resizing the menu brings unpredictable results, with tiles floating every which-way. Tiles can easily go out of alignment. Expect those beta bugs to be fixed.
What we'd like to see
Power users would benefit greatly by seeing at least some of the extensive customization available in the Windows 7 Start menu make it through to the final version of Windows 10. Win10's Start menu doesn't have the moxie of Win7's because it has been rewritten in XAML, and the bells and whistles fell off in the process.
At a minimum, Win10's Start menu should have a hierarchy on the left, with customizable menus. The All Apps list should also be customizable with easily defined folders and entries. (If all else fails, bet on Stardock to come up with a Start menu replacement that's modifiable.)