Microsoft issues Windows 10's lucky 7 preview

Microsoft today issued another Windows 10 preview to its Insider testing group, the seventh so far this year.

Gabriel Aul, engineering general manager for Microsoft's operating systems group, touted build 14279's improvements to Cortana, the operating system's digital assistant, in a post to a company blog Friday.

The refresh also consolidated the two different backgrounds for Windows 10's lock and logon screens -- where users enter their authentication password -- by dropping the separate image for the latter. "Your lock screen background is now used for both the Lock screen and logon screen," said Aul. "This is similar to the behavior seen on mobile."

The merging of the two backgrounds may be related to recent reports that Microsoft has started to show advertisements on the Windows 10 lock screen, a move that made good on talk from the company nearly a year ago. If the lock and logon screens share the same image, showing an advertisement on the first -- which is what some users have seen during the past week -- would also display it on the logon screen.

Notably, build 14279 is the seventh Windows 10 preview released in the first nine weeks of 2016.

In December, Aul promised that Microsoft's engineers would ship previews more frequently in 2016. "The new [ring promotion] criteria will be much closer to our criteria for flighting to our internal rings, which means more builds will pass it and be released externally to the Fast ring," Aul said at the time.

The downside, as Aul noted then, was that the previews would likely contain more bugs and problems than those released using the slower tempo of 2015.

That was illustrated by the problems with 14279 that Aul acknowledged. Among them: Freezing Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book devices, which can be recovered only by forcing a hard reboot; and continued issues with PCs locking up when they come out of the low-power "hibernation" state.

Build 14279 is available only to those Insider participants who have selected the "Fast" ring, or delivery track.


Gregg Keizer

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