The work on the next big update for Windows 10 continues apace, with Microsoft releasing another new preview build containing plenty of fresh features – although what’s also interesting is that the firm indicated it will soon be reaching a new phase of development: stabilization.

Microsoft said: “We are getting close to the point in the development cycle where our focus will be on stabilization for RS5 [Redstone 5].”

That’s interesting because it means that new features will cease to be added, and all the work will focus on simply honing the existing stuff. And, because Sets has been dropped a couple of builds ago, it seems very unlikely that this will be reintroduced as a last gasp thing – because it will doubtless need loads of testing as a major new feature.

In other words, we can guess that it’s almost certainly been pushed back to the next update (due in the first half of 2019); although to be fair, that seemed likely anyway.

Microsoft also announced that the ‘skip ahead’ ring – which will comprise of the first testers to try out that next update – will be completely reset, meaning that everyone will need to reapply to be part of this.

That gives everybody a fresh bite at the early testing cherry, and also helps Microsoft clear out the dead wood of inactive testers who joined the skip ahead ring last time round.

Anyway, so what’s actually new with build 17713 of Windows 10? As ever, Microsoft has made a number of further improvements to the Edge browser, with the introduction of a dictionary that allows users to look up definitions of words in the Reading View, Books, and PDFs.

Windows 10 Notepad

All you do is select the word in question, and the definition pops up in a little box (complete with the option to hear the word spoken out loud, in case you were wondering about pronunciation).

Edge also gets the ability to control whether or not media auto-plays on a per-site basis, for those who like to customize things to a fine-tuned level.

The Edge PDF Reader has been bolstered as well, with fresh toolbar options (like Add Notes) and better text descriptions for the various icons. The user can also pin the toolbar to the top of a PDF, or indeed unpin it (hiding the toolbar, although it will reappear if you hover over the top of the document).

Notepad niftiness

Notepad has also seen some tweaking, with the find/replace function getting a ‘wrap-around’ option (meaning that if the end of the document is reached, the search wraps around and continues at the start). Also, when you fire up find/replace, if you have a word selected, that will automatically be entered into the search box.

There are new handy shortcut controls to make zooming into a document easier, and various other tweaks for Notepad including better performance when opening large files in the app.

On the Windows Ink front, the embedded handwriting panel – which was actually introduced to Windows 10 with the recent April 2018 Update – now becomes the default method of text entry when using a stylus with modern apps.

And, for business users, with this new build it’s now possible to use biometrics to authenticate a remote desktop session. Specifically, Active Directory users will be able to log on securely via Windows Hello for Business.

The Fast Sign-in feature will also allow employees to log on to shared PCs in a swifter manner, and businesses will also be interested to learn that Windows Defender Application Guard benefits from a new interface.

As ever, there are a ton more small changes and a host of known issues with the preview build, all of which are listed in Microsoft’s extensive blog post.

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