Leaked Windows 10 build reveals Cortana and Xbox integration ahead of Microsoft's January Event
Windows 10 is currently a strange beast, it's not officially available until late 2015, but anyone can register for free to the Windows Insider Program and download the software and run it as they see fit on their machines - albeit with the warning that it is pre-release software and probably has issues, and the current build 9879 has its fair share of those.
Microsoft is busily beavering away on the next preview build of Windows 10, which will likely focus on the consumer features of the upcoming operating system to be unveiled in their 21. January press event. An early build featuring many of these consumer features (9901) has leaked onto the web today, with many taking a look at the various changes Microsoft is making.
The most obvious feature added since the recent technical preview is Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, as a key part of the search interface for Windows 10, responding to text and voice commands. The functionality will be very familiar to users of the Windows Phone version, with access to the notebook, reminders, and interests.
Another headline feature is the new Xbox app, which unifies all the diverse Xbox stores (Music, Games and Videos) into one app with access to your friends lists, their activity feeds, achievements and in future is likely to feature full SmartGlass integration to make it a one-stop Xbox shop. ,
As with previous builds, there are other additions and fixes included, but these are more in the line of animations in the TaskView switcher, or an updated settings app. All welcome additions, but decidedly less headline grabbing than the Cortana or Xbox features.
This build is not officially released and many of these features are not yet active or are missing key functionality, but that is to be expected from a pre-pre-release software.
It also creates an interesting dilemma for Microsoft, should they shut down any talk of these leaked builds as they show very incomplete software but create a buzz in the tech circles about the features that are inbound. It also seems to take any punch out of the official announcements when they do come out, a sense of "We've seen that already" that led to Joe Belfiore giving a detailed demo of the Command Prompt at the Windows 10 reveal event in September, just to show something that had not already been seen.