Windows 10 SP1 beta -- aka Threshold 2 -- is now available

As anticipated, the beta builds are back and should be rolling out in the Fast ring even as we speak

Microsoft's Windows spokesperson (who should've been promoted by now) Gabe Aul has just announced that Windows 10 Insider Preview is back with a new build 10525. It's in the th2_release series. I explained how get on the Threshold 2 -- (cough, Windows 10 Service Pack 1, cough) -- train yesterday. If you followed the nostrums in that post and hooked into Windows 10 RTM's Fast ring, you're all set up for the first public run at Threshold 2, which is build 10525.

Aul's announcement includes a couple of highlights, neither of which is particularly earth-shattering:

We got a lot of feedback on the default color for Start, Acton Center, Taskbar, and Title bars and that you wanted to be able to change to reflect your preferences. This feature is now available (though still early) in build 10525 for you to try.

The exact method for setting "your preferences" isn't described and, frankly, I see little change from Windows 10 RTM. Your eye may be better than mine.

In Windows 10, we have added a new concept in the Memory Manager called a compression store, which is an in-memory collection of compressed pages. This means that when Memory Manager feels memory pressure, it will compress unused pages instead of writing them to disk. This reduces the amount of memory used per process, allowing Windows 10 to maintain more applications in physical memory at a time. This also helps provide better responsiveness across Windows 10. The compression store lives in the System process's working set. Since the system process holds the store in memory, its working set grows larger exactly when memory is being made available for other processes. This is visible in Task Manager and the reason the System process appears to be consuming more memory than previous releases.

That's the kind of under-the-covers improvement that will no doubt prove worthwhile for those with little memory, but I couldn't see any immediate difference at all on two test machines, one with 4 GB and one running 8 GB.

Aul also notes known problems with mobile hotspots, and a video playback problem with the Movies & TV app, which needs to be updated from the Store.

For those of you on the bleeding edge, welcome to the future.

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