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What's in the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview update (build 9860)?

Three weeks after releasing a Technical Preview of Windows 10 to the general public, Microsoft has made good on its promise to deliver updates quickly. Today's release includes a modest assortment of new features, many of them already familiar to Windows Phone users. Here's what you'll find inside.

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Topic: Windows
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1 of 7 Ed Bott/ZDNet

If you installed the Windows 10 Technical Preview by signing up through the Windows Insider Program, part of the deal was that you'd get a succession of builds delivered at a much faster tempo than in earlier Windows beta programs. Today's release of the first update comes only three weeks after the initial promise. It's installed automatically, via Windows Update. You can force the process by checking on the Update & Recovery tab in PC Settings.

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One of the most frequent complaints about Windows 8.1's live tiles is that their content isn't easily accessible. It's invisible unless you switch to the Start screen, and even then you have to wait as notificationsc cycle through the tile. Windows 10 adds a persistent notification center that announces itself with a tiny message icon in the lower right corner of the screen. Click to display a list of current notifications, which can can be cleared one by one or en masse, with the Clear All button in the upper right corner.

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3 of 7 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Another feature borrowed from Windows Phone, Battery Saver is designed for mobile devices, which aren't always smart about managing power usage. The user experience is a little raw in this preview, with an informative icon missing in action and the slider at the bottom of the screen inaccessible on this test machine.

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Another new feature in this build is lifted from the Windows Phone playbook as well. Data Sense is intended for devices that have cellular modems where excessive data usage can cost dearly. Windows 8.1 already supports restrictions on so-called metered connections. This new feature makes it easier to see and manage mobile data usage. Note that it appears to work only if you have a direct connection to a mobile network; tethering a mobile handset and using that connection over Wi-Fi doesn't count as cellular data here.

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The Technical Preview updates happen in the background, using the same download mechanisms as Windows Update. If you poke behind the scenes, you can see the actual update files in the hidden C:\$Windows.~BT\Sources folder. On my test system, the main download file required some 2.58 GB of disk space. After installation was complete, the installer file deleted itself to recover disk space.

At this time, there's no supported way to acquire this update as a standalone installer for use on multiple systems.

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If you're comfortable living on the edge, this Windows 10 update adds the option to choose between two update-delivery speeds. Choose Fast if you want Technical Preview updates delivered as soon as they pass through testing from Microsoft's Operating Systems Group. Choose Slow if you want to let those early adopters discover the inevitable bugs in these preview releases before you install them.

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After successfully installing today's Technical Preview update, you'll notice a change in the watermark in the lower right corner of the Windows desktop. The initial release was build 9841. This release is build 9860.

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