Microsoft has a habit of launching a star build during each development cycle. And this may well be it. Windows 10 build 18305 is heavy on new features, so much so that it is overflowing.
Which is good, as development usually winds down in January and February, with focus shifting to bug fixing and optimizations.
For now, though, we rejoice, as build 18305 has the biggest changelog in recent memory.
It contains a number of features that have been announced over the last few days, most notably Windows Sandbox that can be used to run untrusted apps in a virtualized environment. The new Office app is also part of the package succeeding My Office.
Let’s get down to it, shall we?
First up, a simplified Start layout with a sleek single column design and reduced top-level tiles. This is for new devices, new user accounts and clean installs, and along with design changes, offers a new way to unpin a folder or group of tiles.
Windows Sandbox is another highlight, and gives you an isolated desktop environment that you can use to run untrusted software without worrying about any impact to your system or device.
Next, we have some improvements for the Windows Security application, including new Protection History experience. It still shows you detections by Windows Defender Antivirus, but is updated to provide you with more details and easier to understand information about threats and available actions.
A new setting by the name of Tamper Protection is also in.
If you are into symbols and kaomoji — which are those face characters created by only using text — you will like the fact that they are now available for insertion right alongside the emojis panel.
Clipboard history also got a new look, allowing you to better manage multiple clipboard items that can be used later. Its UI is now optimized for text snippets, and this helps give you access to more entries without the need to scroll the view.
Microsoft continues its drive to eliminating passwords, with Microsoft Accounts that work without passwords. They can be set up using your phone number account. The company has also streamlined the Windows Hello PIN reset experience.
Troubleshooting has always been a less than streamlined experience on Windows 10, but the company is finally giving it a look.
With this release, Windows will now recommend troubleshooting for other problems that while are not critical to normal OS operations, but might be impacting your experience. You will see a message when such a scenario arises, and can then get recommendations in a separate window.
Enterprise users also get access to ARSO, which is basically Automatic Restart and Sign On feature that automatically signs-in a user after an update to finish setting up their PC, then locks it again.
Another small addition is the ability to set the default tab for the Task Manager, handy for power users.
The Settings homepage has drawn inspiration from the Microsoft Account homepage, and now has a header at the top that allows you to take quick actions for things like signing in and managing your system. It also provides you with an easy glance to system status, like when updates are available.
File Explorer has been busy recently with what Microsoft likes to call Friendly Dates, and this new default date format is now available to simplify and provide consistency with other views throughout the operating system, apps and even the web.
Shadows are also back, and once again, give Fluent Design that nice, cozy feel. Microsoft removed them a while back, but have added them back in after addressing some feedback it received.
Speaking of rereleases, Redmond has once again made the new Japanese IME available. It took this feature offline after feedback it received from testers.
If you are into Office, then the new Office app may be worth a look. It is designed to provide a simple experience and help you get the most out of the productivity suite. The app also makes it easy to get back to your work quickly.
While we are on the topic of productivity, Cortana can now help you by adding your reminders and tasks to your list in Microsoft To-Do, using your voice or your phone.
Obviously, there is a lot to process here.
But if you would like to get an early taste of all these new additions, ahead of RTM hopefully in March, then build 18305 is the one to get and take for a test drive. Fire up Windows Update to see whether it shows up for you in the Fast Ring.