Over the weekend, Russian leaker(s) WZor once again proved their mettle by posting a new leaked Windows 10 build, the 64-bit only 10051, on the mail.ru website. Others rapidly took the leaked WIM file (stuffed in a RAR!) and turned it into an ISO for general consumption.
For the intrepid:
There's at least one other ISO floating around that claims to be build 10051, but its hashes don't match the verified ones here. The pedigree of that other ISO is unknown.
The build seemed reasonably stable in my tests, but there are clearly some very rough edges. Rumor has it that Microsoft will wait for build 10054 (or 10055?) to clear its internal testing cycle before releasing this latest manna to the masses -- quite possibly later this week. Build 10051 is clearly only for people who are hell-bent on tearing into the new features. That said, the new features are intriguing.
If you want to install 10051 with a local account only, during the installation choose "This device belongs to me," then "Connect my account later." You'll be prompted for a local username and password.
The stars of this build: Mail and Calendar, which are different from (and superior to) the Mail and Calendar apps in Windows 8/8.1. Final naming has yet to be announced, but it would be in character for the shipping versions to carry the Outlook brand.
In Windows 10, Mail and Calendar are actually one app, with a single build number, in this case 17.3925.42001.0. The People app, which used to be chained to Windows 8.1 Mail and Calendar at the ankles and elbows, is now a freestanding app. In this leaked beta version, People doesn't launch; it's a toothless stub.
The new Mail explicitly supports Exchange, Office 365, IMAP, and Google accounts. POP, too -- that in itself is a huge achievement, compared to Windows 8.1's Metro Mail app. Unfortunately, there's no commingled inbox. As you can see from Figure 1, you must select the account you wish to use, on the bottom left, before you can start working with that account's mail.
The giant column on the left can be shrunk by simply clicking on the hamburger icon. See Figure 2.
It's easy to switch between Mail and Calendar by clicking or tapping on the corresponding icon on the left. (The Smiley face is for leaving feedback.)
The Options pane, accessed through the gear icon at the bottom on the left, holds the kind of eye candy that will appeal to some -- a custom background picture, for example, that only shows up when you don't have any mail open. It also lets you set actions for swipe right (set flag by default) and swap right (delete by default). But it doesn't have any of the fundamental options (i.e., grouping, message display font) currently found in Windows 8.1's Metro Mail.
Compared to the old Windows 8.1 Metro Calendar app, the new Windows 10 Calendar app (Figure 3) looks like a usable Calendar, right out of the box. As with Windows 10 Mail, you can click on the hamburger icon and shrink the first column down to a bunch of icons.
Click on the Day column and you can choose from two-day up to six-day views.
In my brief tests, the new Calendar app appears to work correctly with Google Calendar, but I had long delays in syncing changes made to Google Calendar entries outside of Windows 10. (Note: In spite of what you may have read, Windows 8.1's Mail supports Gmail accounts. The big change here is Google Calendar support in the Calendar app.)
While working with a browser on the Google Calendar site from inside build 10051, I couldn't get either Project Spartan or IE11 to properly set new events. That isn't a Calendar app problem, but a browser problem -- probably more beta blues.
There's a new Metro, uh Universal, er Windows app called Microsoft Family. Not sure what it's supposed to do -- running it just brings up a white window -- but it's undoubtedly tied into the old Windows Family Safety account-limiting shtick.
Spartan now has a new entry in the ellipses (. . .) menu called Open with Internet Explorer. Choose it and the current page gets opened by IE11, with a pane left behind requesting your feedback.
WZor also leaked a copy of the official Windows 10 Tech Preview Release Notes for build 10051.
If you really want to see what the new Mail and Calendar apps will look like, build 10051 may warrant a peek. For most Windows 10 wannabe users, it isn't worth the effort.
In other Windows 10-related news...
On Friday, Microsoft Chief Privacy Office Brendon Lynch posted a statement promising that Do Not Track would not be enabled by default in Internet Explorer (or, presumably, Spartan). Theoretically, Do Not Track is supposed to tell websites that they shouldn't track you. In practice, very few sites bother with it. Microsoft is just now coming into compliance with a spec set in stone years ago -- one that doesn't mean much anyway. Gregg Keizer has a good overview. Stick a fork in it.
Microsoft posted an acknowledgment of the bug in the build 10041 and 10049 installers, which may fail if there isn't enough disk space or may take hours to install. The solution on offer isn't much help: Free up 2.5GB of disk space and suck it up. Apparently in some cases, for unknown reasons, the installer downloads all available language packs. I personally hit a variant of the problem when the build 10049 installer placed two new folders on my desktop: Korean Messenger Center and Korean Media Player Center. No, I don't have the Korean language pack installed. Beta blues.
Mary Jo Foley reports in ZDNet that the new Windows Server 2016 test build will be released next month. She had an email from Microsoft confirming the date. You may recall that the first Server 2016 test build hit last October.