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Everything Microsoft changed in the first four Windows 10 Redstone 4 preview builds

Although the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is now ready for the masses, it doesn't mean that the development has concluded. In fact, Microsoft has already started working on the next version, which we currently know as the "Redstone 4 update." Recently, the company released Windows 10 build 17017 for PC to testers with a number of improvements and a few new features.

Windows 10 build 17017 is the first test preview that became available through the Fast ring. Thus far there have been four previews in total, but the first three were made available using the "Skip Ahead" option.

In the latest build, Windows 10 brings Cortana Collection that allows the assistant to automatically group items in easy to access lists. The Settings app gains new features and changes, such as a new page to manage apps at startup, and more.

Alongside build 17017, since August, Microsoft also released Windows 10 build 17004, 16362, and build 16353, and while they're not significant updates, they all add small improvements.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll take a closer look at the features and improvements Microsoft has been working on for the big update expected to launch next year.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 new features and changes

Start menu and Action Center

Starting with Windows 10 build 17004, the Start menu "All apps" list introduces Reveal highlight, which is a new form of interactive visualization that brings illumination to help you navigate and interact with elements.

On Action Center, with the release of build 16353, the "Clear all," "Expand" "Collapse," and "See more" links text inherit the color of the current theme settings.

You can now use a two-finger swipe gesture on touch-enabled devices to dismiss all notifications, and notifications stored in Action Center use am/pm to indicate timestamps when using 12-hour clock format, instead of a/p.

Speaking about Action Center, in build 17017 notifications show a X instead of an arrow button if the notification doesn't support the dismiss feature.

Cortana

Microsoft's digital assistant will also get slightly more useful. In Windows 10 build 17017, Cortana introduces Collections, which is a new feature that automatically groups links from sites you visit using Microsoft Edge into neatly organized lists.

It's basically a new way to bookmark web pages to track movies you want to watch, restaurants you want to try next, and books you're planning to read.

Cortana Collections is disabled by default, but you can quickly go to Settings > Cortana > Notifications, and turn on the Get collection suggestions toggle switch.

Once the feature is enabled, just browse online as you would normally, and Cortana will keep track of the sites you visit, and it'll create suggestions automatically that will appear in Action Center as notifications.

Within the notification, you can click Create List to add the items, or you can click the Settings button to customize the experience.

Image source: Microsoft

You can also open the Collections interface using the new button (that looks identical to the Hub button found the Microsoft Edge) available on the left side of the Cortana app.

The experience is still under development, but in its current stage, it includes six sections to group items, including Home, Books, Movies & TV, Recipes, Restaurants, and Shopping.

Opening any of the sections will reveal a list of items Cortana collected for you. You can sort items by date or name using the option in the top-left corner, and on the right, you can drag and drop recently browsed items that are not yet included in the list.

Also, based on feedback, starting with build 17017, Cortana will no longer show proactive content that you may need to take action in the Cortana experience and Action Center. Instead, in the next version of Windows 10, Cortana's proactive content will only appear in Action Center, which also makes more space available in the Cortana app to show more tips to users.

The transition will take time, in build 17017, you'll notice that Cortana no longer shows proactive content in the app, and in future builds Action Center will begin providing the proactive content.

Settings

In Windows 10 build 17017, the Settings app is getting a few minor but interesting improvements.

Heading to Settings > Apps, Startup is a new page that allows you to control the apps that start automatically at startup or when a user signs in.

Previously, the ability to manage apps at startup was only available in the Task Manager. However, part of a continuous effort to consolidate all the settings in one place, you can now enable or disable which items load at startup using the Settings app. (Though, the Startup tab in Task Manager is still available.)

On Settings > Easy of Access > Narrator, the page has been updated on build 16362 to allow users to select the desired audio channel for speech output using the Sounds you hear drop-down menu.

On Settings > Easy of Access, you'll notice that in build 17017, the Color & High Contrast page has been divided into two pages: High Contrast and Color Filters. While High Contrast doesn't include new features, Color Filters adds a new color wheel starting with build 17004 to help users to get a feel for the filter they're selecting.

On Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, in the "Advanced options" page, the option to allow updates over a metered connection has been reworded to "Automatically download updates, even over metered data connections (charges may apply)."

Additional improvements

Since Microsoft started releasing test preview builds for the Redstone 4 update there have been a few tweaks added to Windows 10 under the hood. For example, on Windows 10 build 17017, after upgrading to a new version the hibernate and Fast Startup settings will be preserved. Also, in this flight, the language icon has been updated for the touch keyboard.

Starting with Windows 10 build 16362, the Lock screen now shows your screen personalization, including Windows Spotlight images, Cortana, Calendar, and Mail if you don't sign in immediately.

If you want to disable this feature, you can go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options, and turn of the Use my sign-in info to apply settings after I restart or update my device option.

Windows 10 has also been introducing a few improvements for the Windows Shell regarding multi-monitor setups that use displays with different DPI settings, language, My People, and Start menu.

Wrapping things up

While these are minor changes, consider that we're still in the early days of development of the Windows 10 Redstone 4 update, and more builds are coming until the update releases in 2018. However, the first four test previews already bring a number of welcome enhancements.

As always, remember that these are pre-releases of Windows 10, and they're not meant to be used on your primary machine. Until the new version becomes officially available, you may come across bugs, issues, and things not working, especially in the early days.

If you're planning to start testing Windows Insider Preview builds, it's always recommended to use a spare computer or a virtual machine.

What are your thoughts on these changes so far? Tell us in the comments.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

17 Comments
  • Sooner or later a cross-matrix setting to check all settings of an app for troubleshooting purposes would come handy too.
  • I love Microsoft and all but why the hell is it taking so long to remove contol pannel and some legacy codes from old windows version?! Whenever I launch the disk management, manage and the properties of folders and file explorer, I want to cry. Its been two years since Windows 10 was released. I love new features and fluent design, but I think Microsoft should stop screwing around with new features and fix these basic problems.  
  • control pane it has a lot of huge list of control. most ever day used can found in setting though
  • What about hardware that insists on putting their settings in control panel? My sound card, my contour shuttle and other devices is in control panel, I can not see Ms putting them in settings, so we will still have to different systems.    MS should have kept control panel.   
  • Legacy hardware, functionality and more. There's 30 years of legacy code to port over. That can't be done overnight especially when you have mission critical hardware that could be reliant on the APIs found in Control Panel. Just use the Settings panel and ignore it. Blame Enterprise, because they tend to move at a glacial pace, sometimes forced upon them by the hardware such as multi-million dollar devices that never get updated as some still require DOS to work!
  • "Easy of Access" lol
  • So still no way to disable cortana, i mean properly disable, not MS version of it and still nothing about more privacy, like turining off telemetry.   
  • There's a Group policy setting if you're on Pro or Enterprise.
  • Group policy for what?  Still can not get rid of telemetry eievn with group policy and Cortana is still running in the background no matter what you do in group policy. unless you do do what I did and delete Cortana directly.  
  • Cortana's GP (which you can easily find with a quick search) does stop Cortana's process running in the background, and changes the search box to the fallback "Search Windows"
  • Oh yeah, I tried that a couple of times, but after a week or so it came back. my way is a permanent solution, well until the machine do a major update and mine is not going to do that for a while., unless Ms over write that as well.
  • Then you're doing something incredibly wrong. The OS doesn't "reset" group policies rules, not even local ones, ever.
  • I followed the instructions I got and it still come back The Os may not reset, but it don't mean Ms don't when they send updates.
     
  • I'm not too happy with the new features and changes. -Reveal highlight is okay. -Microsoft has flipped the location of "collapse" and "delete all" in action center. Has caused me to delete notifications by accident. For many years the buttons were the other way around. Poor quality control and a design mistake. -The new cortana features sounds potentially useful, but what makes it more valuable over set aside tabs, favorites and reading list in Edge? And where is the Cortana region and language support. The latter is more important now than this new cortana feature. Proactive content in Actions center. Is great. Should have been part of windows 10 3 years ago. In fact, to further prevent system fragmentation, cortana search should be moved as well to action center as a new tab. Desktop is already overcrowded with panes. Settings changes and new features look very interesting. curious to try them as soon as they hit the slow ring. There are still many backlogged and half baked features that still must be adressed in windows 10.
  • Hope you're mentioning these in the Feedback app! Not much point ranting about it here :P
  • yes, I have. 
  • Hello people, i wrote this to you now because i have some big problems with windows 10 Pro Inseder Preview build 17017...after a few days start button doesnt work anymore, cant reduce sound, after i delete the items on desktop dont dessapear without refreshing the computer the "Type here to search" doesnt wotk at all...i tryed hard to search for update but said to me that i have the latest update....what should i do now to repair this buggs? Thank you so much.