Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21286 comes with News and Interests on the Taskbar and much more

The new release for the Dev Channel for Insiders is finally here. Microsoft has just released Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21286 from the RS_PRERELEASE branch, and it is exactly what was needed to kick off the new year. Previously they had released 2 updates to the Dev Channel from 2 different branches. Hence, this update would only be available to those who chose the build 21277 from the RS_PRERELEASE previously.

Build 21286 has a plethora of new features and fixes to offer, such as introducing news and interests right there on the Taskbar. Moreover, Microsoft has been working on improving their storage management in the Settings app for quite some time now, and they have introduced more elements to this section as well with the build 21286. In Preview Build 20241, they introduced new options to the Optimize Drives window. They also introduced Storage Health Monitoring in Preview Build 20226.

updated 1

Let us continue to see what else is there in the new build.

What’s new in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21286

News and interests on Taskbar

Users will now be able to access the daily news, or whatever they are interested in by customizing the preview of the “News and interests” which is now directly available on the Windows Taskbar. A small pop-up menu has been introduced right next to the Notification Tray in the Taskbar, which can be expanded to see what’s trending, such as the weather report, stocks market, or the headlines for today.

This nifty new feature allows users to stay up to date without spending too much time on the internet, as the current modern world only allows so little of it. The feed is tailored for you, by you, by showing the relevant subjects and topics. You no longer need to switch back and forth between your various devices to obtain different information. News and interests keep you up to date on the go.

news and interest 4
News and Interests in Taskbar | Source: Microsoft

Microsoft has highlighted 3 main characteristics in the news and interests popup that define its purpose and features:

  • Keep yourself up to date: The busy lifecycle has left many of us out of the loop of daily occurrences. You can now keep up with the rest of the world by viewing the highlights and news directly from the news and interests in the Taskbar. May it be newsletters, TV channels, or even the weather report.
  • Personalize your news feed: You can react to each individual feed through an emoji. Moreover, you can select More stories like these or Less stories like these through the More options menu, and then the news and interests window will show you more or less of the similar newsfeed overtime.
  • You have control: Each individual user has the power to see what they like and remove what they dislike. If you do not like this feature, it can be turned off by right-clicking on the Taskbar.

Microsoft states that this feature is currently only available to Insider from the following countries:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Britain
  • Australia
  • India

If you are an insider from the mentioned places and still have not received the news and interests feature after installing the build 21286, do not worry. Microsoft is slowly rolling out this feature and you should have it soon. Ensure that you have the latest Chromium-based Microsoft Edge installed as it is a prerequisite for this feature.

A reboot will be required after installing the new build.

Enhanced Storage Space option in Settings app

As we mentioned at the beginning, Microsoft has added the Storage option in the Settings app with this new release. You can now create storage pools and spaces, add or remove disk partitions, and optimize pools.

These new features to the Storage option bring a more modernized overall look, as it takes over the Disk Management Console that is accessible through the Legacy Control Panel.

manage storage spaces 1

These features can be found by navigating to the following location:

Start Menu -> Settings -> System -> Storage -> Manage storage spaces

Previously, clicking on Manage storage spaces would automatically open up the Control Panel. Now, after installing build 21286, it leads to a new page within the Settings app.

This feature is currently only available to certain members of the Insider Program. However, Microsoft assures that it will eventually be made available to every insider on the Dev Channel.

New File System command: DiskUsage

A new command-line tool has been introduced with this build known as DiskUsage. This tool is an addition to the filesystem utilities the command line offers. Insiders can now use this command-line tool to track their files and directories that are consuming large amounts of storage space. It is also capable of recursive scanning for directories, or entire drives, and fetches detailed information about each subfolder and its consumption of the drive.

Enter the following command in Command Prompt to get more information on DiskUsage and its supported arguments.

diskusage /?
diskusage cmd

Execute commands on WSL startup

Users can now execute any Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) command as soon as they launch the specific Linux distro. To use this ability, edit the /etc/wsl.conf file in your distribution and add an option titled “command” under a section titled “boot”. When done, the command will execute whenever that particular distro is run.

edit cmd
Source: Microsoft

However, the WSL distribution will remain running for several minutes even after the last Linux process has been executed.

results cmd
Source: Microsoft

Notification for time zone switching

If you have selected Set time zone automatically option in the Date and Time settings, then you will now receive notifications when switching from one time zone to another.

The time zone is updated as soon as your device is connected to the internet, and it communicates with the Time Server. However, it can be a “High confidence time server” or a “Low confidence time server.”

If you are connected to a high confidence time server, then you will be notified of the new time zone settings, and that it has been changed. Below is an example:

high cmd
Source: Microsoft

If, however, you are connected to a low confidence time server and there is only a single administrator account on the device, you will now receive a notification asking you whether to make the new time zone change or not. Clicking Ok on the notification will update the new time zone.

low cmd
Source: Microsoft

2 new recovery modes for Windows File Recovery

Windows File Recovery is Microsoft’s application for users to restore data and files if they were accidentally or deliberately deleted. It currently only supports Windows 10 2004 and higher versions.

Build 21286 brings 2 new modes to this application for the users to recover their lost data.

  • Regular mode: A quick recovery option for NTFS file systems.
  • Extensive mode: A deep scan for most file systems.

Fixes in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21286

Along with many features discussed above, Microsoft has also fixed issues that users were experiencing with older releases, as well as made a few other changes. Here is a list:

  • Microsoft has added an option to disable automatic controller-to-virtual-key mapping for the UWP apps. To disable it, add a new DWORD (32-Bit) Value by the name “ControllerToVKMapping” to the following location using the Registry Editor, and then set its value to 0.
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Input\Settings\ControllerProcessor\
  • An issue with users on build 21277 when logging into Windows with an Azure Active Directory or Active Directory account receiving a popup stating “Your PC ran into a problem and restarted in 1 min” has been resolved.
  • The issue of no drives appearing under Settings -> System -> Storage -> Manage Disks and Volumes has been resolved.
  • The problem of some printers getting stuck when added through the Settings app has been addressed.
  • The occasional sign-out from websites and apps after rebooting the computer has been resolved.
  • The problem of the security icon being larger than usual when shift-right-clicking the icons in the Taskbar has been taken care of.
  • The issue with the MediaTranscoder hanging when transcoding certain files has been resolved.
  • The issue with some UWP apps playing audio and not ducking when pressing the microphone icon to make Cortana listen has been addressed.
  • The problem with VPN entries in the network flyout getting stuck at “Action Needed” has been resolved.
  • An issue with touch targeting when resizing windows on a touchscreen has been addressed.
  • Some changes and fixes to the emoji keyword search results have been made.
  • The problem with the Read Aloud option being occasionally greyed out in the Magnifier has been taken care of.
  • The issue with the “Help make narrator better” toggle button is disabled for the Insiders has been fixed.
  • The Narrator will now be able to read the text inside the cells in Microsoft Excel when verbosity is set to 2.
  • The problem with the Narrator not announcing whether a combo box is expanded or collapsed has been fixed.
  • Narrator’s ability to read the names of certain hyperlinks in Microsoft Edge has improved.
  • The issue with the Narrator’s ability to read the code inside Visual Studio has been fixed.
  • The problem with the Settings app crashing when accessing Ease of Access with high contrast settings has been fixed.

Known issues

As with every new build in the Dev channel, this update also has a few issues that Microsoft is aware of. Here is a list of those known problems:

  • Microsoft is aware of an issue with some games crashing or hanging, such as State of Decay 2, Assassin’s Creed, etc.
  • Microsoft is working on the problem of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War not launching after the new build has been installed. Microsoft suggests pausing your insider updates if you play any of these games.
  • Users may experience some graphical issues when resizing the window of certain apps.
  • Some 32-Bit systems may lose network connectivity after a while of installing this update. Microsoft suggests pausing the Insider update if this is a significant problem for the user.
  • Launching the Xbox Game Bar from the Start Menu or by using the Windows Key + G shortcut keys, while a text editor is also open, may result in the computer hanging for a while. If this is the case, Microsoft recommends exiting the GameBar.exe process from the Task Manager.
  • Users may experience low frame rates while using Miracast.
  • Microsoft is working on a fix for explorer.exe is either hanging or crashing since build 21277.
  • The update process hangs for extensive periods of time when installing the new build.
  • Aero Shake is disabled in the new build by default. It can be enabled by creating a new DWORD (32-Bit) Value by the name “DisallowShaking” with Value Data of 0 at the following location:
    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
  • Live previews for pinned sites in the Taskbar have not yet been published for all insiders. Hence, users might see a blank or grey image when they hover their mouse over the Taskbar’s thumbnails.
  • Microsoft is currently working on enabling a new taskbar experience for insiders. However, users can unpin the pinned sites from the taskbar, remove them from Microsoft Edge by going to the edge://apps page, and then re-pin the sites.
  • News and interests:
    • Sometimes it may show offline, even when the device is connected to the internet.
    • Users are unable to open the news and interests windows using only the keyboard.
    • Sometimes the window may appear empty.
    • Often the news and interests window cannot be closed using a touch/pen.
    • The flyout uses more space on the taskbar than expected.

How to install Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21286

If you are subscribed to the Dev channel of the Windows Insider Program, then you shall automatically receive the new update through Windows Updates. However, if you are anxious to receive the update without waiting, here is what you can do.

  1. Navigate to the following location:
    Start Menu -> Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Update
  2. Now click on Check for updates on the right side and the computer will start scanning for any newly available updates.
    check for updates
  3. Once scanned, click on Download and the installation should begin.
    download 1

You can also download the standalone ISO for Preview Build 21286 from Microsoft’s Insider website. Visit the link provided, login to the website using your Microsoft credentials, and select the ISO edit you wish to download from the dropdown menu at the bottom of the page.

download iso

Rollback/remove Windows 10 Insider Preview update

If you do not wish to keep the installed preview update for some reason, you can always roll back to the previous build of the OS. However, this can only be performed within the next 10 days after installing the new update.

For rolling back after 10 days, you will need to apply this trick.

Cleanup after installing Windows Updates

If you want to save space after installing Windows updates, you can run the following commands:

dism.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /AnalyzeComponentStore
dism.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup
Windows image cleanup

You can learn all about the Microsoft Insider Programs and check out how to join and manage them. You can also join the Windows Insider Program without creating or registering your Microsoft account.

Subhan Zafar

Subhan holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and has completed several system and network certifications including Huwaei, Cisco and Microsoft certs. He mostly researches and writes about the Windows world.

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