Windows 10 for PC
Microsoft just launched a new Windows 10 preview for PCs with improvements to the Start menu and tablet mode, a slew of app updates, and ORTC support in Microsoft Edge. This build includes more than just the usual bug fixes: There are new features and changes to test.

Windows 10 is a service. As VentureBeat wrote, this means Windows Insiders are getting new builds even though the operating system launched in July.

First up, the Start menu can now handle four columns of medium-sized tiles (Settings app => Personalization => Start => enabling “Show more tiles”). Insiders asked for this so they could have two wide or large-sized tiles side-by-side in a group. The tile limit has also been increased from 512 tiles to 2048.

Next up, in tablet mode you can now snap apps to the left and right directly from the Task View. You can also replace a previously snapped app with another, and swipe down to close an app.

The text input panel now expands as you write to provide more space in Latin languages, and it no longer opens automatically when you are not in tablet mode or have an external Surface keyboard attached. Additional punctuation support has been added, and suggestions should now be more relevant. Lastly, you can now turn off the Windows background picture in the sign-in screen (Settings app => Personalization => Lock screen => turn off “Show Windows background picture on the sign-in screen”).

Arguably the most exciting addition is support for the Object Real-Time Communications (ORTC) API in Microsoft Edge. In layman’s terms, this means Microsoft is one step closer to bringing voice and video calling to its browser without the need for plugins. Yes, that includes Skype.

Later this year, Microsoft will update Skype for Web so that it doesn’t need plugins on Microsoft Edge. This same experience will also be available in Skype for Business. For Chrome and Firefox, Skype for Web will leverage existing WebRTC APIs to offer the same experience without plugins. That said, other browsers will still require a small browser plugin.

Microsoft said it is making the following investments to make this happen:

  • We are updating our Skype media stack on all platforms (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android) with Standard transport protocols support, including STUN (RFC 5389), TURN (RFC 5766), ICE (RFC 5245), DTLS-SRTP (RFC 5764). The Skype media stack is used by all Skype and Skype for Business clients, cloud services and servers.
  • For audio, on top of SILK, G.711, G.722, we have added support of the Opus codec in ORTC. We will continue to add native Opus support in our Skype media stack for all platforms.
  • For video, Skype and ORTC in the Edge browser currently support 264UC. We are working on adding support for H.264. This will enable video interop between Skype and the Firefox browser, which currently supports H.264, and the Chrome browser when H.264 support is added to its WebRTC implementation.