Windows Insiders get better narration and console colors in build 18298

Despite some missteps, there's little argument that Windows 10 is improving with time (some would say, like fine wine). Microsoft just published the Windows Insider Preview build 18298, and there are more than a few goodies in store.

Although not all relevant in the grand scheme of things, the most obvious outward-looking change is a new icon for Explorer, now with bolder colors and a slightly adjusted design. The Downloads folder is now sorted by date by default, since Microsoft found that the existing name sorting wasn't much help in helping users find something they just saved.

One of the most interesting behind-the-scenes changes is an improvement to the on-screen touch keyboard. Where before each key had its own hitbox, Windows will now dynamically adjust the hitbox of each individual key according to to the user's typing habits. This should help reduce the number of typos and indirectly improve text prediction. The size of the keys themselves doesn't change, though. The diagram below should make it quite clear.

Fellow coders and sysadmins will also find a lot to like in this Insider build. Microsoft's Console team wrote an entire blog post dedicated to some changes present in this update, and color work is at the front and center. You can now select a cursor's shape and color, as well as disable automatic forwards scroll, mimicking the behavior or Unix terminals. The console now understands the concept of foreground and background colors (selectable, of course), adding up to the constantly improving VT code support.

You may recall that Notepad also saw a handful of handy tweaks in the October update. Users can now choose to save files in UTF-8 encoding without the BOM (Byte Order Mark). If you have no idea what that is, perhaps you remember when some websites or text files had a couple squiggly characters in the top-left corner for no apparent reason. There's now an asterisk on the title bar marking a file that's modified (finally!), and support for long path names when saving files.

Frequent or constant users of Windows' accessibility tools will be happy to know that the Narrator is now a bit more clever than before. There are a ton of small improvements to it, but here are the main ones. The Narrator's settings now live in a single dedicated page, obviating hunts through different menus. You can adjust its verbosity level, and it can read URLs back to you. It can also now nudge the text cursor along as it reads something, and you can hear when you're pressing certain keys. Finally, the Narrator will stay enabled if you need to reset a PIN or a password.

Interested users should check out Microsoft's blog post on the 18298 preview build. Those with their machines configured to receive Insider builds should see it pop up at any point now. If you're interested in checking out Windows 10 features before they make it to the public in general, check out the Windows Insider Program in your Settings app.

Comments closed
    • odizzido
    • 12 months ago

    improving? It seems like every week there is a new disaster with W10. Deleting people’s files, messed up sound, boot loops. I am sure there is a list somewhere and a lot of it is very recent.

    edit———

    Can I get an anti-windows insider update model? You know, where only tested and stable versions make it onto systems? Better yet, let me choose when I update like I used to be able to. That would solve a lot of problems.

    • evilpaul
    • 12 months ago

    Also, in build 28298: NO SOUND! So, yay!

    They #@%^ed up sound somehow, so myself and a number of other people rolled back to a previous build so that our PCs could be “multimedia PCs” again.

    Also, also, you couldn’t even notify them via Feedback Hub because that wouldn’t load in the build, either.

    • benedict
    • 12 months ago

    “Despite some missteps, there’s little argument that Windows 10 is improving with time”

    A simple internet search proves this statement wrong. There are tons of people arguing the opposite.

      • sweatshopking
      • 12 months ago

      Looks up flat earth theories and immediately discards your position as a legit argument.

    • thedosbox
    • 12 months ago

    Cat in the preview. No cat in the article. Talk about bait and switch!

      • Wirko
      • 12 months ago

      That’s half excusable given that the title is not much of a bait.

      • morphine
      • 12 months ago

      Gotcha, didnnit? 😛

        • thedosbox
        • 12 months ago

        I never expected TR to resort to cat bait 😀

          • morphine
          • 12 months ago

          The gerbil was on vacation.

    • anotherengineer
    • 12 months ago

    Since radeons and I think nvidia gaming cards now support/have full 10-bit color, I wonder when windows 10 will support full 10-bit color or does it already, and is there a way to tell??

    Because who wants ghetto 8-bit, 16.7 million color when you can have 10-bit 1.07 billion colors!!

    Well if you have a true 10-bit monitor 🙂

      • swaaye
      • 12 months ago

      The only benefit I’ve been able to see with 10-bit color is reduced banding in some situations like Alien Isolation (it supports 10-bit output). And it is very subtle. Subtle as in you won’t be able to notice it without comparing screenshots.

      I think it’s more useful for publishing or photographic work. Maybe related to special wide gamut? I dunno.

        • evilpaul
        • 12 months ago

        8-bit color provides 256 colors per color channel.

        On a 1920×1080 panel that’s around 8×4 pixel blocks in size if you have a full screen gradient.

        Anyone having trouble seeing things that size is lucky if they like gaming. They can run super low res with no antialiasing on integrated graphics and not have to spend lots of money buying discrete GPUs.

      • webs0r
      • 12 months ago

      You mean, 10-bit colour on the desktop? Yes it would be nice.

      Although we should throw in a whole bunch of modern needs:
      – per app/window 8-10-12-n bit colour awareness (while meaningful, as swaaye mentions, benefits can be very hard to see and with good dithering, invisible/almost impossible to see).
      – per app/window colour space awareness (sRGB/BT709 vs BT2020, DCI-P3 etc)
      – per app/window DPI smarts (they might have this sorted now, i haven’t had a need to check it). Ideally give user an abstracted way to control it for apps.
      – then – wishful thinking – 3DLUT support for colour space conversions, which are done automatically. i.e. a window declares an sRGB colour space, your display is running in DCI-P3, it runs a 3DLUT to convert the colours to display within sRGB on your DCI-P3 display, accounting for display variances and gamut). If you don’t have a calibrator it uses the perfect gamuts.
      etc etc

      So then you can run a bunch of different apps side by side on your desktop, each showing correct colour. Solves a bunch of issues with current HTPC->tvs, even new desk monitor displays are coming with higher gamut+HDR. Currently I assume users are constantly switching modes using their remotes to get the right colours, or just living with constant oversaturation, or are blissfully ignorant of the whole situation.

      There is a lot of work that needs to be done , but their track record shows they are not interested in doing it. (Let’s add 3d to MS Paint instead!)

      • sweatshopking
      • 12 months ago

      Somebody needs to read the windows 10 reviews here on the tech report.

      Hint hdr options are found in the settings app

      • Krogoth
      • 12 months ago

      It is limited 10-bit support. You still need to get Quadros/FirePros if you want 10-bit support for most professional graphical software suites.

    • Redocbew
    • 12 months ago

    A day on the Internet:

    Ad bar:
    [quote<]Find your Soul Mate[/quote<] Meh. Article thumbnail: [quote<]cat picture[/quote<] Wait, what?

    • EzioAs
    • 12 months ago

    The new Office icons looks neat too. I hope MS will improve more icons after this.

      • sweatshopking
      • 12 months ago

      They’re redoing them all. New office ones already been demoed.

      • Liron
      • 12 months ago

      It seems that the ultra flat look that I disliked so much is finally going out of fashion.

        • Chrispy_
        • 12 months ago

        Sadly no, it’s still ultra-flat.

        The only improvement is that they’re starting to understand that you need contrast between different elements at last, we’ve finally gone full-circle after Microsoft have re-learned the lesson they made with Vista’s interface 11 years ago.

    • danny e.
    • 12 months ago

    they need to focus on higher priority bugs like removing Cortana from windows.

      • sweatshopking
      • 12 months ago

      That’s essentially coming, as she is being stripped out of search.

      • Chrispy_
      • 12 months ago

      Cortana is just the tip of the iceberg. So much unwanted, unrequested junk/bloat has been added in a way that violates all of the prior antitrust rulings against Microsoft.

      3D Builder
      Calendar and Mail
      Cortana
      Edge
      Groove Music
      Internet Explorer
      Microsoft Maps
      Microsoft Store
      Movies and TV
      Paint 3D
      Photos
      XBox

      I’m not including all the optional, uninstallable vendor-bloat like Candy Crush or MSN news – The above is just the list of shovelware that can’t be uninstalled at all, and gets re-added if you ever have to do a repair of windows. It sounds like Microsoft have at least stopped the rude and irritating practice of reinstalling those things on their bi-annual updates if you’d previously gone to the effort of nuking them via powershell.

        • sweatshopking
        • 12 months ago

        I’m don’t think most people would consider a built in mp3 player, basic photo editing, a browser, etc. As unnecessary shovelware. There are legitimate issues with junk being installed with windows, but that list is probably perfectly reasonable for most people.

          • Chrispy_
          • 12 months ago

          No, you misunderstand; It not their inclusion with Windows that caused them to make that list. It’s the way Microsoft won’t let you uninstall them.

          I call them shovelware rather than junkware, because they are acceptable apps that some people will find useful. I’m not one of those people – but your Average Joe will likely use them because they don’t know about superior free alternatives.

            • sweatshopking
            • 12 months ago

            I’m not sure there are superior free alternatives for many of those. Which basic mail app is better than windows mail? I have outlook, it’s paid and for a different market. Thunderbird and it’s type are a poor substitute. Groove isn’t amazing, but I’m struggling to think of a better music manager that’s as easy to setup and use with a similar feature set.

            There are more powerful apps. There are other free apps. But in terms of simplicity and features, I don’t think many of those apps are beaten on Windows.

            I do agree they should be easily uninstalled for those who don’t want them, though that may screw things up for the uneducated.

            • Chrispy_
            • 12 months ago

            Man you are old-fashioned; If you’re not using an enterprise mail application, then the entire [i<]concept[/i<] of a mail app is [b<]antiquated.[/b<] People (even non-technical people) use cloud-based browser mail (Gmail, Outlook.com, or Yahoo!) and have done since before W10 was launched. All the popular ones have desktop notifications so the "app" is utterly redundant. If you actually need a desktop application to manage your mail, 95%+ of the market is covered by Outlook and Thunderbird alone, and the remaining 5% has no shortage of interesting alternatives - like Opera Mail to name just one. Either way, if you need a "big" mail app, Windows mail is no good to you anyway. The same exact argument can be made for: [list<][*}Groove (people get their music streamed online now. MP3's are old hat) [*}Movies and TV (Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, etc - and if you have a local file, you may need a codec Microsoft doesn't have) [*}Maps (Anyone not using Google Maps these days is a liability - nothing else comes close)[/list<] I've practically given up on these old ways of doing things and I feel like I'm way behind the curve because you can pry my local storage and flexible desktop applications out of my cold, dead, hands. Though, I'm struggling to find compelling reasons why I couldn't just let them go like most other people seem to have done.

            • EzioAs
            • 12 months ago

            I can’t argue about Movies and TV but there are arguments to be made for the functionality of Groove and Maps.

            Groove just works and it will work just fine if you still play offline music.

            As for Maps, while it doesn’t have the same amount of data that Google Maps has, is still very accurate and quite useful for me as a developer who needs to use location data consistently. Plus, as far as my experience goes, Maps hasn’t been wrong just yet while I’ve had quite a number of false entry/location on Google Maps.

            I use the Mail app but I can understand your point that a lot of people probably mostly relies on the web-client. Still doesn’t make it a bad app per se.

            Anyway, if your entire point is to argue that people want the ability to uninstall these bundled apps, I’m sure the function to do so will come at some point. MS is already doing that, it’s just a matter of time before the rest of the suite follow.

            • sweatshopking
            • 12 months ago

            Regarding mail only, since I largely otherwise agree with old dog and ezioas, I do use it, since I have multiple email accounts from multiple providers and it has a decent unified inbox. Desktop notifications for a single web based is a step backwards, but I don’t need the full enterprise level of email application. Plus, I like to use my pen in email, and only mail provides it.

            • Froz
            • 12 months ago

            I find it hard to believe that someone would use the Mail app willingly. It’s so shockingly, unbelievably bad. I need a mail client and I was trying really hard to use that Map for about a week or two, but it’s just impossible if you need something high quality. For the record, Thunderbird is not high quality either, unfortunately.

            I don’t remember many details, but it was all really about basic functionality, getting the mail, good search, structured view of mailboxes, that sort of things.

            I ended up buying some small app that is doing well enough, although honestly I think I should have just gotten MS Office package with Outlook (but it was outrageously more expensive than one without it, at least here).

            • Chrispy_
            • 12 months ago

            TBH, those are valid reasons. Niche reasons, but good ones nonetheless.

            • oldog
            • 12 months ago

            Ok, so a quick look at the “Apps and Features” menu:

            3D Viewer – 16kb
            Alarms and Clock – 16kb
            Calculator – 36kb
            Camera – 16kb
            Feedback Hub – 1.03MB
            Get Help – 180kb
            Groove Music – 32.4MB
            HEIF Image Extensions – 16kb
            Mail and Calendar – 156MB
            Maps – 16kb

            (I got tired of the exercise but you get the idea)

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