Windows 10 preview asks, Are you fast track or slow track?

The Windows 10 Technical Preview has hit its third milestone release, with bug fixes and new features rolling out for 'fast track' and 'slow track' testers. Windows 10 will feature a work-friendly version of the Windows Store, and will fix a longstanding quirk in the operating system version number.

Steven Senne/AP/File
The Windows 10 Technical Preview has reached its third milestone release. Here, customers visit a Microsoft Store in Boston.

Windows 10 has hit its third major milestone on the road to public release: Microsoft has released a new stable version of Windows Technical Preview to developers and testers, which gives us a better idea of what the finished software – expected to ship in the second half of 2015 – will look like.

The first update to Windows 10 Technical Preview introduced a two-track release schedule designed to keep things usable for most testers, while offering bleeding-edge new features to those who want them.

The latest Technical Preview build continues this two-track system, and shows that it’s working well in practice: the fast-track users have been able to identify several problems and bugs in their release, which Microsoft has fixed before updating the slow track. The Windows Insider program, which comprises users testing Windows 10, has about a million members; roughly 10 percent have opted to put themselves on the fast track.

One of the most important features in Windows 10 will be an app store that’s better-suited for office use. If you’ve used Windows 8, you’ve probably noticed that the Windows Store features a lot of games and apps for personal use. Despite the presence of Microsoft Office, it’s not really designed for work.

Engadget’s Jon Fingas reports that Windows 10 will let business owners and IT managers create a custom version of the store, featuring in-house business apps as well as public apps that have been approved for employee use. IT managers will also get a Web tool that allows them to manage updates to employees’ computers.

Microsoft hopes these changes will make it easier for businesses to switch to Windows 10, rather than running outdated versions of Windows for years and years.

One last geeky note: the Windows 10 Technical Preview will also address a long-standing quirk in the way Microsoft operating systems are numbered. Windows 7’s version number (reported in the OS itself) was 6.1; Windows 8 was 6.2; Windows 8.1 was 6.3. Windows 10 will actually be version 10.0.

Why the discrepancy? Many applications look at the operating system’s version number to ensure compatibility or avoid bugs, so Windows has stuck with major version 6 for years – ever since Vista – to make sure these applications don’t get confused. But now app updates have made it safer to change the OS version number, so version 10 can finally be version 10.

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