Microsoft continues in its quest to turn Windows' serviceable interface into a work of art. When it arrives on Oct. 17, the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will feature an assemblage of user interface (UI) tweaks called the Fluent Design System that supposed to give the operating system a more refined and cohesive look.
For the subsequent, as-yet-unnamed feature update (code-named Redstone 4), Microsoft plans to push Fluent Design further into the operating system.
Windows 10 Insider preview build 17004 for PC is available now for members of the Windows Insider early-access program who selected the Skip Ahead option. Skip Ahead offers users a sneak peek at what Microsoft is working on beyond the next scheduled featured update, or in this case, the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
"As we progress into the next feature update, you'll begin to see more and more elements of Fluent Design light up," said Dona Sarkar, a Windows and Devices Group software engineer and head of the Windows Insider program at Microsoft, in a Sept. 27 announcement. "We love the enthusiasm we've seen for Fluent Design and with today’s build you'll notice that Reveal is now visible on Start in All apps."
Rather than the simple color-changing highlight that currently appears under a mouse cursor when a user is making a Start Menu selection, the Reveal UI behavior catches a user's attention using subtle gradations. It also helps users distinguish between other similar UI elements by drawing an understated line between them as the mouse moves up and down the list.
The changes in Build 17004 are more than pixel-deep, however.
The operating system's built-in Edge web browser received several new bug fixes, including one addressing an issue that would sometimes cause the address bar to become uncooperative after typing a web address. Exploring multi-page PDF files is less of a chore now that the browser correctly renders each page after skipping a few. A complete list of other improvements and fixes is available here.
As expected, non-Skip Ahead preview builds leading up to the Oct. 17 release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update are focused on stamping out the last remaining bugs and other under-the-hood improvements that stabilize the system software before it's distributed to millions of PCs.
Optical drive loyalists can breathe a little easier now that Windows does a better job of confirming their hardware configurations. Preview build 16299 fixes an issue that would cause the operating system to exclude CD and DVD drives from Windows Explorer's index of storage devices under the "This PC" menu. Microsoft also solved a problem that would sometimes cause the Edge browser to crash outright while viewing websites that contained embedded PDF content.
Blocking downloads using the operating system's Automatic File Download notification now works properly on UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps and the included Windows Defender anti-malware software no longer attempts to download online-only files under certain conditions. More information on preview build 16299 can be found here.