Forking hell. It's summer, and Windows 10 is already thinking about autumn
But Insiders will skip no more. Not for a while at least
Microsoft's army of Windows Insiders got a treat last night in the form of a fresh build of Redmond's other OS. You know, the one that isn't based on Linux.
The Register does not normally cover every single Windows Insider build, but 17713 is a bit of a milestone. Before the usual gushing over new functionality, the announcement mentioned that RS5 (the internal name for this build) had been forked into its own branch so the team can focus on stabilisation rather than shoehorning more features into the venerable OS.
The previous version, RS4 (which became the April 2018 Update – aka "the gift that kept on giving"), was branched on 14 February. Ten weeks later it hit the general public like a chocolate pudding pushed off a table. By that logic, we should expect to see RS5 squeaking in at the end of September or during October, more or less on schedule.
Some Insiders have enjoyed even earlier access to new builds of the OS, thanks to the Skip Ahead option. This sends users to a pre-release branch to try out stuff on the bleeding edge. With RS5 branched, Skip Ahead users would normally have expected to start seeing functionality planned for 2019. However, Microsoft has closed this option, ostensibly to "clear out some PCs that haven't been active", although keeping all Insiders hard at work kicking RS5 in the last few weeks won't hurt either. The option may return in the coming weeks.
Other than the milestone of branching, 17713 is relatively light on features. The vanishingly small number of Edge users will be pleased to see that it is now possible to block the hated autoplay on a per-site basis, along with a number of PDF tweaks.
Notepad also saw some fiddling, a worrying development for anyone yearning for simpler times. Search and replace gets support for wrap-around text and remembers settings, text can be zoomed and the status bar will show line and column numbers. Surely a rebrand to Notepad 365 cannot be far behind?
The final notable feature is sign-in improvements, with biometrics making an appearance in Remote Desktop sessions through Windows Hello for Business and web sign-in support allowing logon support for non-ADFS federated providers, such as SAML.
These changes are all pretty minor, and with just over two months left until the build arrives on the desktops of ordinary users, the hope is that Microsoft is indeed focused on quality. Nobody needs another 1803. ®