Microsoft opens up about more Windows 10 preview features in the works

Microsoft officials are revealing a few more of the Windows 10 features testers should expect in the coming months.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft execs are sharing publicly a bit more about what Windows 10 testers should expect in the next test builds of the new client operating system. 

At the TechEd Europe conference in Barcelona on October 28, Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore demonstrated Build 9865 of Windows 10 in front of the morning keynote audience. That build is somewhat more recent than the first Windows 10 preview update, Build 9860, which Microsoft made available to its Windows Insiders testers last week.


Belfiore showed off how testers soon will be able to snap multiple applications side-by-side across multiple monitors. (With Build 9860, testers got the ability to move apps across multiple monitors.) He also demonstrated some new trackpad gestures that will be coming to Windows 10. These multifinger gestures are like those Apple has used on Macs, as Tom Warren of The Verge noted.

It's not clear when Microsoft will provide testers with the second Windows 10 enterprise preview update. Last week, officials told testers that coming updates will sometimes be more frequent, and sometimes less so. A consumer preview of Windows 10 is expected around January 2015.

Belfiore also told Tech Ed Europe attendees that they should expect to be able to do an in-place upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or later. He didn't get granular about exactly what will be preserved — settings, applications, data, etc. — when users opt to install Windows 10 on top of their existing Windows variants. When moving from Windows 8.1 test builds to 8.1 final, users had to reinstall their apps; those who moved straight from Windows 8 to 8.1 were able to preserve their apps, settings and data.

Belfiore didn't say anything about whether Windows 7/8/8.1 users will be able to move to Windows 10 for free or some kind of reduced fee. (Just noting this because I know folks are going to ask.) 

I've asked Microsoft officials if they're ready to provide more specifics about the planned Windows 10 in-place upgrade. If and when I get a comment on that, I'll update this post with details.

Update (October 29): Last night, Microsoft officials shared more details about the in-place upgrade plans for Windows 10. The goal is to "preserve the apps, data, and configuration from the existing Windows installation, taking care to put things back the way they need to be after Windows 10 has been installed on the system," according to the post. 

Microsoft also is getting closer to delivering to testers the Continuum functionality it showed off in a video at the end of September, Belfiore also told press and analysts during a question-and-answer session. Belfiore said he expected testers should have a chance to try Continuum either before the end of 2014 or by early 2015.

Continuum will allow users with two-in-one devices who can connect and disconnect keyboards to more easily transition between the different modes. When a keyboard is disconnected, a back button will appear on the task bar to help users to more easily navigate. 

The vast majority of the features Belfiore showed during his Tech Ed presentation today already had been disclosed by Microsoft in press and public demonstrations and/or blog posts. Belfiore did officially acknowledge some of the coming Windows 10 under-the-cover features that were disclosed early in a Microsoft blog post which was later pulled —such as the fact a Microsoft Account won't be required for login (users will be able to use Azure Active Directory for single sign-on instead).

Editorial standards