Windows 10 retro PowerToys gets update: 100 bug fixes and even better FancyZones

Bug causing PowerToys crashes also released for the open-source update of Microsoft's 1990s power-user tool.

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Developers have released a modest but important update for the open-sourced rendition of Microsoft's 1990s-era PowerToys Windows power-user utility.

PowerToys, for those too young to experience Windows 95, was a utility for customizing the operating system and eking out extra productivity with tweaks that weren't part of the standard system. 

Originally developed by the Windows 95 shell team, Microsoft last year decided to hand it over to the community. It's now maintained by a project group of supporters who have been developing new tools and making improvements for the retro tool on Windows 10. 

ZDNet's Windows veteran Ed Bott highlighted FancyZones as the most useful PowerToys tool, which allows users to line up three windows side by side with more flexibility than the built-in Windows Snap window-arrangement feature.   

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The project has been working on several FancyZones improvements. The PowerToys project notes on GitHub that users need to reapply their FancyZones layout after upgrading but say custom zones are preserved. The update also improves FancyZones' compatibility with other apps. 

Overall, PowerToys version 0.15 brings stability and quality improvements aimed at delivering auto-update functionality to PowerToys. 

The updated version alerts users to a new version available from within the app, and no longer requires the user to run it as admin. 

The developers say they've resolved "almost 100 issues" and a few hours ago even put out version 0.15.1 to fix a bug in version 0.15 that crashed the program. 

The update also makes .NET Framework parts of the source run faster with NGEN, Microsoft's native Windows image generator.   

The PowerToys project has also outlined its goals for version 1.0 of PowerToys, chief among them is ensuring users are always on the latest version. The project also wants all Windows 10 users to be able to use PowerToys and make it available for download in the Microsoft Store. 

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For privacy reasons, the group wants to ensure that telemetry can be disabled. They also note that the FancyZones Editor "has a clearer model for working with layouts with multiple monitors" and that its "layouts are relative, not absolute so they can be used on different monitors with different resolutions". 

FancyZones also retains app locations, whether that's in a docked or undocked configuration, or a virtual desktop scenario. 

The utilities that will ship with version 1.0 include the Shortcut Guide, FancyZones, and PowerRename.