Microsoft today released a new Windows 10 preview with new features like Windows Sandbox, support for symbols and kaomoji, and Automatic Restart and Sign On (ARSO) for enterprises. It also includes improvements to Start, Windows Security, the Clipboard, sign-in, the Task Manager, troubleshooting, settings, and File Explorer. This build is from the 19H1 branch, which will arrive in the first half of next year.

Windows 10 is being developed as a service, meaning it receives new features on a regular basis. Microsoft has released six major updates so far: November Update, Anniversary Update, Creators Update, Fall Creators Update, April 2018 Update, and October 2018 Update.

This build simplifies the default Start layout for new devices, new user accounts, and clean installs. It features a one-column design, reduced top-level tiles, and tailored version for commercial and educational customers. If you’re upgrading to this build, you won’t see a new layout because Windows updates aren’t going to change what you see in your Start menu.

Microsoft describes Windows Sandbox as “a new lightweight desktop environment tailored for safely running applications in isolation.” It’s where you can run an executable file you’re not sure about or fire up a clean installation of Windows without setting up a virtual machine. Any software installed in Windows Sandbox stays only in the sandbox, and once it is closed all its files are deleted. The feature will ship with Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise.

Speaking of security features, Windows Security has a new Protection History experience. It still shows you detections by Windows Defender Antivirus, but it also includes results from the Windows Defender Offline scanning tool and offers more detailed information about threats and available actions. Additionally, there’s now a Tamper Protection setting that provides additional protections against changes to key security features, including limiting changes that are not made directly through the Windows Security app.

When you press WIN+(period) or WIN+(semicolon), in addition to emoji, the picker now includes symbols (punctuation, currency, geometric, math, Latin, language) and kaomoji. This experience started rolling out with build 18252 but is now available to all Windows Insiders.

The cloud-powered Clipboard (Windows key + V) has been updated to offer a more compact UI. Because 90 percent of items in the clipboard history are text, the design is now optimized for text snippets, which means you can see more entries without having to scroll.

As part of Microsoft’s quest to kill the password, the company is adding support for setting up and signing in to Windows with a phone number account. You can use an SMS code to first set up your account and then use Windows Hello Face, Fingerprint, or a PIN to sign in. Speaking of PINs, the Windows Hello PIN reset experience has been redesigned to match the look and feel of the web version.

In addition to critical troubleshooting, which happens automatically and can’t be turned off, Windows 10 will now also recommend troubleshooting for other problems. One example is offering to temporarily turn off a setting that sometimes causes an app or feature to crash. You can then turn it back on once the problem has been resolved with an update.

ARSO automatically signs a user in after an update to finish setting up, and then it locks the PC. This feature (Settings => Accounts => Sign-in options => Privacy) will be enabled on Cloud Domain Joined devices that meet certain security requirements: BitLocker is enabled and is not suspended during the upgrade, TPM 2.0, and SecureBoot.

If you have a preferred tab in Task Manager, you can now set it as the default tab (Options => Set default tab). When you launch Task Manager, it will now start right there.

The Settings home page now has a header at the top that allows you to take quick action for things like signing in and managing your Microsoft account. It also gives you an easily visible system status, such as when updates are available.

With build 18272, File Explorer got a new default date format called Friendly Dates. It’s now easier to turn off (just right-click on the date modified column and toggle).

The new Japanese IME is back, after being taken offline a few weeks ago, although it has returned via a staggered rollout. It includes enhanced key customization options and improved candidate window reliability.

This build also introduces a new Office app and integrates Cortana with Microsoft To-Do.

Bug fixes and known issues

This 19H1 build includes the following general bug fixes and improvements:

  • Fixed an issue resulting in bug checks with error “KERNEL SECURITY CHECK FAILURE” while creating/launching VMs or installing/performing scans with certain AV Apps.
  • Fixed an issue where the Open Folder icon in File Explorer had a white background when using dark theme.
  • Fixed an issue in the previous build where Settings was crashing when opening Speech Settings.
  • Fixed an issue where the Action Center didn’t have an opening animation in the last few flights.
  • Fixed an issue where the activities listed so you could easily pick up where you left off when opening search all had an unexpectedly old timestamp.
  • Fixed an issue where the search box in the taskbar had a truncated dark border in light theme.
  • Fixed a few scenarios that could result in the taskbar unexpectedly becoming transparent.
  • Fixed an issue that could result in taskhostw.exe unexpectedly using a large amount of CPU for a long time.
  • Fixed an issue where Settings would crash when clicking on the “View storage usage on other drives” option under System > Storage in recent builds.
  • Fixed an issue where “Delete previous version of Windows” in Configure Storage Sense was not selectable.
  • Fixed an issue resulting in Backup unexpectedly failing for some with a message saying the media is write protected (error code 0x80070013).
  • When the Search section is visible in Settings it will now come before Update & Security.
  • Fixed an issue where some pages in Settings had more space at the top than others.
  • Fixed an issue resulting in ☆ and some other characters not appearing correctly in certain text fields.
  • Fixed an issue where the Windows Ink Workspace was using the old Microsoft Store icon.
  • Fixed an issue where the emoji picker might draw partially offscreen if invoked near the bottom of the screen.
  • Fixed an issue where the second line of the input indicator in the taskbar, when shown, wasn’t legible in light theme.
  • Updating messaging in the Snipping Tool to include a tip about using WIN+Shift+S to help improve discoverability.
  • Fixed an issue where in the Details tab of Task Manager you couldn’t sort by the “Shared GPU memory” column.
  • Fixed an issue resulting in ShellExperienceHost.exe preventing the device from going to sleep with message “A Miracast Session is currently connected.” despite said session having already been disconnected.
  • Fixed an issue from the previous flight where on some systems the High Definition Audio Controller failed to start with Code 10, resulting in no audio from the onboard speakers and microphone.

Today’s update bumps Windows 10 from build 18298 (made available to testers on December 10) to build 18305.

This build has 11 known issues:

  • The hyperlink colors need to be refined in Dark Mode in Sticky Notes if the Insights are enabled.
  • The Windows Security app may show an unknown status for the Virus & threat protection area, or not refresh properly. This may occur after upgrade, restart, or settings changes.
  • The cmimanageworker.exe process may hang, causing system slowness or higher than normal CPU usage. This can be bypassed by rebooting the machine if it occurs.
  • Launching games that use BattlEye anti-cheat will trigger a bug check (green screen).
  • USB printers may appear twice in the Devices and Printers under Control Panel. Reinstalling the printer will resolve the issue.
  • Clicking your account in Cortana Permissions isn’t bringing up the UI to sign out from Cortana (if you were already signed in) for some users in this build.
  • If you’re using Hyper-V and have added an external vSwitch in addition to the default, many UWP apps won’t be able to connect to the internet. Removing the additional vSwitch will resolve this.
  • The Task Scheduler UI may appear blank even though there are scheduled tasks. For now, you’ll need to use the command line if you want to see them.
  • Creative X-Fi sound cards are not functioning properly.
  • When attempting to update to build 18305, some S Mode devices will download and restart, but fail the update.
  • If you install any of the recent builds from the Fast ring and switch to the Slow ring – optional content such as enabling developer mode will fail. You will have to remain in the Fast ring to add/install/enable optional content. This is because optional content will only install on builds approved for specific rings.

As always, don’t install this on your production machine.