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New Windows 10 build adds gestures, tweaks the toolbar, and simplifies OneDrive

Mark Hachman | Nov. 13, 2014
Microsoft says Build 9879 of Windows 10 will be the last of the year. New features seem aimed to build in flexibility where it's needed, and simplicity where it's not.

Microsoft released another incremental update of Windows 10 on Wednesday, Build 9879, with new gestures, an improved OneDrive file management system, and the ability to turn off the new "task view" and search buttons.

If your Windows 10-equipped PC is plugged in and sleeping, chances are that it's already downloaded the new build--assuming that you've opted in to the "Fast Ring" of updates. Microsoft said Build 9879 would be the last of 2014, although users can expect a new release early next year, Gabriel Aul, the engineering general manager within the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, wrote

Microsoft added the task view and new search icons as part of the original technical preview of Windows 10. Build 9860, released in late October, made the rumored Notifications Center official, as well as adding what Microsoft said was 7,000 tweaks to the code base. 

Apparently, however, some wanted a purer Windows 10 experience. The new build adds a checkbox menu option where you can simply choose whether or not those features appear as icons in the toolbar. What appear to be the flagship features, however, are a simplified, logical OneDrive experience, and five new three-finger gestures to swipe through Windows 10's user interface. A third, Snap Assist, now also works across multiple monitors.

Why this matters: Microsoft continues to stride toward a release of Windows 10 sometime late in 2015, arm-in-arm with developers and enthusiasts who have provided feedback throughout the process. With Build 9879, the emphasis appears to be on adding flexibility where it's needed, and simplifying things where it's not.

OneDrive: what are placeholders, anyway?
One of features that Microsoft added quietly as it scaled up the free storage associated with OneDrive was the way Windows handled files stored on your PC. In Windows 8.1, users have the option to store files locally or in the OneDrive cloud. But there's a gray area: To save download time, OneDrive might decide to save a partial "placeholder" of the file on your PC. What wasn't clear, however, was what were placeholders and what were full files--resulting in a bit of angst when users boarded a plane without Wi-Fi, Aul noted. 

That's changed. Windows 10 will now use what Microsoft calls selective sync, where you'll need to specify what's saved to your PC, and what Microsoft keeps safe in its OneDrive cloud. Microsoft also appears to be killing the dedicated OneDrive app, allowing users access to OneDrive strictly through the File Explorer.

New gestures
Everyone loves quick-and-dirty methods to get things done, and Microsoft's Build 9879 adds a new set of three-finger shortcut gestures for trackpad users: 

  • 3 fingers up launches Task View
  • 3 fingers down to Show Desktop
  • 3 fingers flick to left or right to switch to previous app (go back 1)
  • 3 fingers move left or right: Alt-Tab (Task View) pops up, and you can select the app you want (remove fingers to select)
  • 3-finger tap: Search


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