Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the Windows 10 Anniversary Update was rolled out, the company began work on the next two major updates to Windows 10, code-named Redstone 2 (which will likely be fully ready in the spring of 2017) and Redstone 3.
As it did with the Anniversary Update, Microsoft has been releasing public preview builds to members of Microsoft's Insider Program via a series of public preview builds.
What follows is a list of every preview build of Redstone 2, starting with the most recent. (Note: This covers only previews for the PC version of Windows 10, not the phone version.) For each build, we've included the date of its release and a link to Microsoft's announcement about it.
Release date: February 8, 2017
The main feature of this minor build is the introduction of the Compact Overlay window feature, which lets developers write apps that display in a thumbnail above other windows so they're always visible --for example, for watching a video. The Windows 10 Movies & TV app and Skype Preview app will eventually make use of it. There’s also a new Share icon, and a variety of minor bug fixes and changes.
Release date: February 1, 2017
The main new feature in this minor build is braille support for the Narrator screen reader. There are also several small improvements and bug fixes. The build is aimed primarily at the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update and is the primary build for the second Windows 10 Creator's Update Bug Bash, during which users and developers identify as many bugs as possible; it started on February 3 and will end on February 11.
Release date: January 27, 2017
This minor build focuses in large part on adding features to Xbox gaming. Included is the ability to broadcast your gaming play by streaming it over the internet, as well as a new Game Mode that optimizes your PC for gaming. Scott Henson, Xbox Partner Group Program Manager, has provided a list of all new gaming features on his blog. Even though this build is, to a great extent, targeted at gamers, Dona Sarkar, Software Engineer, Windows and Devices Group, noted in the announcement that, "This build does have some platform related bugs that will impact the ability to play popular games on your PC."
There are a variety of other minor changes, such as giving Microsoft Edge the ability to read e-books aloud, and being able to stop app and game download progress in the Action Center. There are also several small improvements and bug fixes.
Release date: January 19, 2017
This build adds a handful of minor new features, and fixes a variety of bugs, many of which have been pointed out by users in Microsoft’s Feedback Hub. With it, you can now buy e-books from the Windows Store and read them in Microsoft Edge. There’s also a new custom color option in the Color settings, the W-Fi settings have been simplified, and there is a new Storage setting for letting you automatically delete files you don’t need any longer.
Release date: January 12, 2017
This minor build focuses on several small improvements to the Edge browser. You can now share tabs with other apps on your PC; you can also more easily import favorites, browsing history and passwords from other browsers. Microsoft has updated the web notes feature so it uses Windows Ink, among other features.
There are also non-Edge improvements; for example, when you switch from one PC to another, Cortana will display (in the Action Center) links to the Edge websites and the SharePoint or OneDrive documents you most recently used on the original PC. There are several other small changes and a variety of bug fixes.
Release date: January 9, 2017
This build makes a fair number of changes to the Edge browser and adds a few tweaks to the overall interface.
Edge now features a useful tab preview bar that pops at the top of the screen when you click a small down arrow to the right of the + next to your tabs. You can then scroll through the tab preview bar by clicking an arrow on its right side, or by using a mousewheel, touchpad, or swiping on a touch screen.
Edge also gets two new buttons for managing tabs: one of them closes all your tabs; the other one thumbnails of the tabs you’ve closed and lets you restore them all, or each individually. Edge also blocks untrusted Flash content and gives you the choice of whether you play it or not. The Microsoft Edge changelog lists all the changes to Edge.
People who are fans of the Start menu will welcome a new feature that lets you group Start tiles into folders. This build also addresses a complaint that some people have had about windows resizing not being smooth enough -- according to Microsoft, it’s now smoother on both desktop applications and Windows apps.
The build also includes minor improvements to Windows Ink, Cortana, Windows Defender, accessibility features and the Settings app. And, as always, there are a variety of bug fixes.
Release date: December 7
This build focuses on several system changes, including improvements to Cortana. By speaking to Cortana, you can now turn off, restart, lock, or put your PC to sleep, and raise and lower your system volume. You can also control the iHeartRadio and TuneIn Radio music apps using voice commands.
Windows Ink has gotten some new features -- for example, it's more difficult to accidentally delete sketches. There are several new Microsoft Edge extensions, including for the Ebates cash-back service. There are lesser improvements, such as the addition of a Windows Defender dashboard and improvements to Narrator. And, as always, there are a variety of bug fixes.
Release date: November 17
This minor build adds several minor features. You can now read unprotected e-books in the EPUB file format with Microsoft Edge. The Paint 3D Preview app is included as part of Windows for the first time -- previously it was a separate download. PowerShell becomes the default command line for Windows. There are also a variety of minor bug fixes, such as improving the reliability of the protractor and inking in Sketchpad, and fixing an issue with the Magnifier’s keyboard shortcuts.
Release date: November 9
This minor build adds minor features. The Sticky Notes app has been updated to include more languages, improved text input while typing and a few bug fixes. Windows Ink Workspace gets some minor improvements, including an upgraded protractor and faster loading of Sketchpad. It’s also now easier to connect to an external monitor from a tablet -- you can do it from the virtual touchpad instead of a mouse. There are also the usual host of bug fixes and small improvements, including one that stops Internet Explorer from crashing right after loading.
Release date: November 3
This minor build is the first to use a new Microsoft platform for publishing updates, called the Unified Update Platform (UUP), although only the mobile build is delivered with UUP -- it will still be a while before PC updates will be delivered using it. Microsoft says that UUP will lead to smaller update download sizes -- 35% smaller from one major update to another. Aside from that, build 14959 can support an app that runs on just-announced Microsoft hardware, including the Surface Studio: Paint 3D Preview, which adds 3D modelling tools to Microsoft Paint. (The app isn't in the new build; it has to be downloaded separately.)
The build also includes a variety of bug fixes and small improvements, such as better controlling of scaling of virtual machines in Hyper-V Virtual Machines, and squashing a bug related to Windows' automatic brightness setting.
Release date: October 25
This minor build includes updates to Windows’ built-in Mail and Calendar apps. You can now open mail messages in a new window. You can also use @mentions: When you type the @ symbol in the body of an email and follow it with your contact's name, Windows pulls the contact's email address from your contact list and adds it to the To: field. The build also includes a variety of fixes. For example, it fixes a bug which wouldn’t allow people to sign into some apps -- such as MSN News and Groove -- with their Microsoft account.
Release date: October 19
This minor build adds new features for users who have a precision touchpad. It allows you to record your favorite keyboard combinations and assign them to gestures; you can also change the audio volume with a gesture. Windows Ink gets some improvements as well, including the addition of stencils and the ability to use Windows Ink in the Photos app. The camera interface has been simplified and there are a variety of bug fixes and minor improvements.
Release date: October 13
This minor build lets you customize how your touchpad works, notably by letting you customize three- and four-finger gestures and taps. To do it, go to Settings > Devices > Touchpad and look for the “Other gestures” section. The Wi-Fi settings page has been redesigned, and includes a new setting that lets you have a turned-off Wi-Fi turn back on automatically after a certain amount of time elapses. The build also includes a variety of bug fixes.
Release date: October 7
This minor build updates the Photos app, including a horizontal bar that makes it easier to navigate and view photos. The build also lets you collapse the app list on the Start menu by going to Settings > Personalization > Start and turning on “Hide app list in Start menu.” Windows Update gets a new icon. There are also a variety of bug fixes and minor improvements.
Release date: September 28
This minor build adds several new extensions to Microsoft Edge, including the Microsoft Personal Shopping Assistant, which lets you save products from several web sites in one location, along with price alerts and comparison shopping. Also new is the Turn off the Lights extension that lets you turn a web page black around a video you’re watching, so you can more easily focus on the video. The build also includes a variety of bug fixes for problems such as Explorer.exe crashing frequently.
Release date: September 21
This minor build focuses mainly on small bug fixes. In addition, you can now track traffic in the Maps app by tapping the traffic icon in the app bar. You can also send SMS and MMS messages using Skype on a Windows 10 PC if you have a Windows 10 phone with Skype and Skype is set as the default messaging app.
Release date: September 14
This minor build adds a “Snooze” feature to Edge so that you can set Cortana reminders on pages you’re viewing. The Cortana reminder appears as a notification and in Action Center, which lets you open that site in Edge. This is helpful for people who keep tabs open as a way to remind them to do something on a site.
Insiders will appreciate another change: If you’ve uninstalled an app, that app won’t be reinstalled when you upgrade to the newest Preview build. So, for example, if you uninstall the Amazon Kindle app, it won’t be re-installed when you go to a new Preview build.
There are also a number of bug fixes in the build as well.
Release date: August 31
This minor build has only one new feature: It enables Windows Insiders to download their Insider preview builds, OS updates and app updates from other PCs on their network and from PCs on the internet. This should lead to faster downloads and updates. It needs the Windows Update Delivery Optimization feature to be turned on (it's turned on by default). If you want, you can turn off the feature entirely and just download your updates the usual way, straight from Microsoft.
There are also a variety of bug fixes -- for example, to make the power button on the Start menu work and to correct an issue that had turned off Cortana's text-to-speech capabilities.
Release date: August 11
This first public preview build of Redstone 2 included no new significant features; instead, it focused on Windows 10's plumbing. An announcement about the preview build on Microsoft's Insider Hub (accessible only to those who are running Windows 10) noted that in the first Redstone 2 build, "You won't see any big noticeable changes or new features just yet...we are focusing on making some structural improvements to OneCore."
OneCore, the announcement went on to note, "is the shared core of Windows across PC, tablet, phone, IoT, Hololens and Xbox. It is essentially the heart of Windows."
The announcement warned that the build might be buggy.