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Microsoft, you shouldn't have: Festive Windows 10 Insiders build about as exciting as new socks


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Fixes aplenty, but not so many shiny baubles – which is great


Boy writes a letter to Santa. Pic via Shutterstock

Dear Mr Christmas, I would like a less wobbly Windows in 2019


With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, Microsoft has lobbed a fresh build of next year's Windows 10 down the chimney.


Insiders hoping for shiny new toys to play with will, however, be disappointed to find the computing equivalent of a fresh pair of socks.


The 18298 build of Windows 10 is extremely light on new features, which is a worry for fans hoping to see the return of Sets or (whisper it) the arrival of Chromium as Microsoft's unpaid army of preview-addicts get closer to January's "bug bash".


The rest of us will be glad that Microsoft seems to be focusing on fit and finish rather than loading up the Windows elephant-on-a-traffic-cone with yet more baubles and gizmos which, while they might make for great keynote demos, are unlikely to see much real-world usage.


Tweaks in this build include the ability to set up a Security key straight from the Settings page and a fiddle with the File Explorer icon to make it more visible when the new Light Mode is selected.


More useful is a sensible default to the sorting of the downloads folder, which will now go by date downloaded to make it easier to find the often absurdly named files. If you've already changed the default, your preference won't be changed.


The Console sees some love in this release too, with some experimental Terminal settings to allow CLI fans to make that command line their own, from cursor shape to colours. Sadly, while neat, this tinkering of colours will not be bestowed upon the awfulness of the appearance of PowerShell error messages. And this has made us sad.


Accessibility and the Narrator have seen improvements with additional verbosity levels and better table-reading in the soon-to-be-snuffed Edge, along with bigger and brighter cursors. The orange reboot indicator, warning a user that a restart is needed for an update, has also made an appearance on the Power button in the Start Menu.


Finally, having mostly left well enough alone for many years, Microsoft is continuing to deal with long-standing issues in Notepad, and has finally added the option to save files in UTF-8 without a Byte Order Mark (and made this the default).


It has also been made possible to open and save files with paths longer than 260 characters, and Notepad won't create a new file automatically when launched with a file path that doesn't exist.


The list of fixes is extensive and includes lifting an update block for PC's using Nuvoton (NTC) TPM silicon by fixing a bug that broke Windows Hello. The crash that occurred when trying to change a PIN or password in the setting page has also been fixed, although Microsoft would much rather you used the three-finger Ctrl-Alt-Del salute to change things.


The lack of fripperies in Windows 10 continues to be a reassuring sign that maybe this release will occur without the drama of the previous two emissions.


And hey, who doesn't like socks for Christmas? ®



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