Microsoft issues first update to Windows 10 preview since January

Faster cadence in the works, manager promises

win 10 small start

The Windows 10 Start menu as you would use it on a desktop or laptop.

Microsoft today updated Windows 10 Technical Preview, the first time since Jan. 23 that it has refreshed the sneak peek.

The latest build was labeled "10041" and was immediately available for downloading through Windows Update on devices running the preview.

According to Gabriel Aul, the engineering general manager for Microsoft's operating system group, 10041 features tweaks to the Start menu; expands the desktop version of Cortana to China, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and U.K.; and improves the company's baked-in Photos app.

Missing from Build 10041 was Project Spartan, the code name for the new browser Microsoft will bundle with Windows 10. While Microsoft has trumpeted Spartan since January -- and confirmed Monday that it will not be named "Internet Explorer" -- all that's appeared so far in the preview is the rendering engine. That was updated today.

In a blog post today, Kyle Pfulg, Project Spartan's program manager, said that the browser would debut in the next release of the preview.

Only testers who have set the preview to the "Fast" track -- Windows 10 also offers a "Slow" track -- will be able to download the update today. The slower-paced "ring" -- Microsoft's term -- will be updated at some unspecified later date, when disk image files in .iso format will also be posted for download.

Last week, Aul said that Microsoft would accelerate the update pace of Windows 10 Technical Preview. Today, he elaborated on that plan.

"For those of you in the Fast ring, we do expect to deliver builds with newer features and fixes more often, but you'll also see more bugs with fewer workarounds," Aul wrote in a blog post today. "I also don't want to set expectations that you'll see new builds daily or weekly. We will still have regular periods where we're integrating new code that needs to spend time stabilizing, so we'll have some weeks where we expect builds to flow out and some where we'll hold back."

Speculation two weeks ago had focused on the possibility that updates would appear very frequently, perhaps as often as daily. Those rumors were amplified when Aul said he had argued for a new track he pegged as "Ludicrous Speed."

The preview and its update process have been a test of Microsoft's plan to regularly update the production version with new features and functionality as well as the usual security fixes. Although the company has not committed to a specific post-launch cadence, most analysts expect that it will provide monthly updates to consumers but let businesses register for one of two slower tempos.

Microsoft has yet to reach the monthly bar. The last interval -- between Jan. 23 and today -- was 54 days.

Windows 10 will debut this summer, Microsoft announced earlier today.

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