Microsoft’s touch-friendly tile UI arrived in Windows 8 where it was forced upon everyone all the time. Microsoft learned its lesson from that, and Windows 10 only uses the full-screen tiles in tablet mode. In the latest Insider build, Microsoft is testing a new approach to tablet functionality. There’s a new touch-optimized desktop, and the traditional tablet mode won’t turn on automatically.
Microsoft just started rolling out Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18970 this week. This version of the OS will eventually become the first major update of 2020. This version of Windows could include features like a redesigned start menu, cloud download recovery options, and more. Nothing set in stone, but Microsoft is trialing a new home screen setup in the latest build. You’ll only see the new desktop if you’re using a tablet or 2-in-1 device, though.
Previously, disconnecting the keyboard from a Windows 10 computer with touch capabilities would kick you over into the full tablet UI. That means the traditional desktop goes away, and you have application tiles similar to the Windows 8 UI everyone hated. It wasn’t as bad as that version of Windows, but it could be a jarring transition that didn’t mesh with how people wanted to use their computers. That won’t happen in the latest build.
When disconnecting a 2-in-1 system from the keyboard in Build 18970, you’ll get a tweaked desktop UI that works better for touch. For one, the keyboard icon will appear in the system tray for easy access. Taskbar icons will also get a bit more space between them for easier tapping. The Search and Cortana buttons (if enabled) will collapse to a smaller tile as well. Lastly, the file explorer UI will switch to a touch-optimized layout.
Microsoft is careful to point out the full touch UI is still there and works just like it did before. You can choose to enable that at any time, but Microsoft wanted people to be able to detach their devices and still have the familiar desktop UI without jumping through hoops.
Microsoft is still probably six months away from releasing the features in this build to regular Windows 10 users. Insiders are invited to share feedback, which Microsoft has promised to listen to after recent update bugs. We can only hope.