Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 18317 to the Fast ring, separating search and Cortana

It's Wednesday, and that means that it's time for a new Windows 10 Insider Preview in the Fast ring. Build 18317 is now available, and it contains some notable new features.

For one thing, search and Cortana are getting a divorce, so they'll no longer be one and the same in the taskbar. They'll both still be there, but as separate entities. This is something that we've been expecting for a while.

There are some other improvements as well, including font management improvements, Start reliability improvements, and more. Here's the full changelog:

Separating Search and Cortana

Going forward, we’ll be decoupling Search and Cortana in the taskbar. This will enable each experience to innovate independently to best serve their target audiences and use cases. Some Insiders have had this update for a few weeks now, and we appreciate all the feedback we’ve received about it so far! For those new to this update, when it rolls out to you, you’ll find clicking the search box in the taskbar now launches our experience focused on giving you the best in house search experience and clicking the Cortana icon will launch you straight into our voice-first digital assistant experience.

Other available Search and Cortana settings have also now been split between the two, along with the familiar group policies.

This change is one of several we’ve made throughout this release to improve your experience in this space, including updating the search landing page design, enhancing your search results, and integrating Microsoft To-Do with Cortana. If you have any further feedback, please don’t hesitate to share it with us here.

Note: Cortana is currently only available in supported markets.

The next step in improving Start reliability

As some of you may already know, up until now Start in Windows 10 has been hosted by something called ShellExperienceHost.exe. In order to provide you the best possible Start experience, we’re separating it into its own process, called StartMenuExperienceHost.exe. This has a number of benefits, including simplifying debugging and insulating Start from potential issues impacting other surfaces. This has been running as an experiment for a few weeks now and we’ve seen measurable improvements in the reliability amongst those that have the change, so we’re rolling it out to everyone.

We’re also making a change so that Start no longer suspends, which improves launch time.

A Better Font management experience in Settings

Insiders today can now drag and drop font files from File Explorer into the modern Settings > Fonts page to install them. After installation, click on the font in the Font page, to view the different font faces associated with the font and all the details of the font. You can also uninstall the font from this font details page. Drag and drop font installation by default is installed as a per-user font which does not require elevation, hence it will not be available for other users. To install the font for all users in the device, use the “Install for all Users” option by right clicking the font on file explorer.

A simpler Windows Insider Program Settings page

We are introducing a simplified Windows Insider Program Settings page via Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program with Build 18317. The goal is to make the end-to-end experience of signing up for the Windows Insider Program and setting up your PC to take new builds much easier by simplifying the experience and removing some of the clutter. You’ll find that all the same functionality is still there.

Under “Pick your Insider settings” is where you can change your Insider ring on your PC.

Windows Console Updates

We’ve made several fixes & improvements in Windows Console in and leading up to build 18317, including:

  • Fixed spurious text artifacts being displayed when running cscope in a Linux VM via ssh

  • Fixed GitHub issue 296 where the incorrect mouse button ID was being reported when a mouse button was released, resulting in an “unexpected mouse-drag behavior” regression

  • Fixed GitHub Issue 313, enabling colors above index #15 to be set via VT OSC 4

    • Colors <= 99 fixed in this build

    • Colors > 99 fixed in up-coming build

  • Corrected sizing issues for Linux alt-buffer apps (e.g. vim, emacs, etc.) resulting in more reliable resizing

  • Fixed some issues with Consoles growing in height if scroll-forward is disabled

  • Fixed ConPTY, enabling underline VT sequences to now pass correctly, allowing ConPTY-enabled apps (e.g. VSCode’s integrated terminal) to correctly receive and display underlined text

  • Made ConPTY flush its output buffer before terminating ensuring apps receive all input and display correct output

  • When running Tmux, correctly restore state after Win + D, resulting in Tmux’s last line of text rendering correctly

  • Fixed Console to preserve a Console window’s currently colored text when executing Cmd.exe

  • If using raster fonts, Console now correctly preserves the user’s font after running .NET Core code (which defaults to UTF-8 codepage 65001)

  • Correct how Console scrolls text region, fixing how text is rendered in Linux’ `screen`

  • Significantly improved performance of ConPTY – perf now very close to “raw pipe”

This build is from the 19H1 development branch, so it's a preview for the next feature update to Windows 10, which is due out this spring. It's expected to RTM in March, so the development of new features is slowing down. It seems likely though, that we're weeks away from seeing new Skip Ahead builds, which will be the first from 19H2.

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