Here's what's new in Windows 10 build 10240

Windows 10 build 10240, widely called the 'RTM build,' is just as stable as build 10166 but with a few interesting improvements

Here's what's new in Windows 10 build 10240

In a surprise move yesterday, Microsoft released build 10240 -- the so-called RTM build  -- for Windows Insiders running the Windows 10 Technical Preview in both Fast and Slow rings. In an even more surprising move, Microsoft released a huge security patch, KB 3074663, for those who install build 10240.

First, a note about terminology: I call build 10240 the RTM build because it has been released to hardware manufacturers and other partners outside of Microsoft to be installed on new PCs and tested for new software. In the Windows 3.1 days, RTM meant the bits had been released to those stamping out CDs or DVDs and putting them in shrink-wrapped boxes. Times change, but acronyms -- not so much. Since the days of Windows 7 -- and arguably earlier -- RTM has had very little to do with burning bits on shiny coasters. I'll continue to call build 10240 the RTM build or perhaps "the first RTM build."

Tantalizingly, though, Windows spokesperson Gabe Aul says, "This build is one step closer to what customers will start to receive on 7/29."

Clearly, Microsoft is trying to stress-test its servers with this build, offering it to both the Fast and Slow rings, with their more than 5 million Insiders, and making the build available only through Windows Update. Those ISOs you see on various sites are home-brewed versions assembled from the official ESD files.

Working with build 10240 overnight, I found it to be as stable as build 10166 (which is impressive, in my experience), and noticeably faster. I had problems connecting repeatedly with OneDrive, however -- Windows kept kicking me out -- and VPNs still don't work right. There's no OneDrive Universal app, as expected, and no Skype Universal app. 

Visible differences between builds 10240 and 10166 are few and far between, as befits an RTM build. There's no watermark on the lower-right corner of the desktop, nor is there an expiration "time bomb," as has been the case with all previous Preview builds.

When you first sign in, Microsoft includes new advertising for Edge, as well as Photos, Music (formerly Xbox Music, now called Groove Music), and Movies & TV (formerly Xbox Video). You then go through the old "Hi" sequence, ending up in a now-familiar-looking desktop, with a Start menu much like the ones we've been working with for several months.

There are a few minor differences in the Start menu. The Mail app has a running advertisement ("We speak Yahoo!"). Music is identified, at least in some places, as Groove Music. On the left side of the Start menu, Microsoft really wants you to download and install the old desktop-based Skype client, since the Universal Skype app won't be ready in time. The Get Office tile has been around for a few builds; at this point it's a cobbled-together Universal app that points you to various websites.

The Windows Store may tell you that you have two apps awaiting download -- MSN Food & Drink, and MSN Health & Fitness -- but in fact, Microsoft has pulled both apps, along with the MSN Travel app, which won't come as a crushing blow to anybody. Iignore those two apps in the Store.

On the other hand, as soon as you have build 10240 installed, it would be a good idea to drop by Windows Update (Start > Settings > Update & security > Windows Update > check for updates) and install the Security Update KB 3074663. You will have to restart your PC afterward.

Windows Phone received updates earlier this week for its MSN Weather, MSN Money, Microsoft Photos, Outlook Mail, Outlook Calendar, Groove Music, and Voice Recorder apps. I couldn't find any appreciable difference between the corresponding apps in builds 10166 and 10240. The Albums feature in Photos still doesn't do much. The MSN Weather app no longer carries an advertisement. Xbox Music has been rebranded Groove Music, but the feature set hasn't improved.

Edge, the new browser, runs faster than ever. Microsoft claims it's much faster than Chrome, although you have to keep in mind that it's still a work in progress. As I mentioned yesterday, Google can now (in theory) be used as Edge's default search engine. In practice, my PCs show options for using Wikipedia and Twitter as search engines, but Google isn't yet on the list. Apparently it'll take a while for Google to become available on all copies of Edge. (Update: In the wee hours of Thursday morning, I could no longer coax the Wikipedia or Twitter search engines into Edge. They no longer appear as options on PCs that had them before -- no idea why.)

Build 10240 may not be the "absolutely final first build" of Windows 10, but it's very close. Of course, you should expect that those installing Windows 10 in late July will have a huge patch rollup waiting for them in Windows Update. 

Aul has promised "at least one fun surprise for Windows Insiders coming up!" I wonder what it could be.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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