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Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 16251. Whats New?

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Bytes: Microsoft has announced the newest iteration of Insider Previews for Windows 10. Insider Preview Build 16251 for PC is rolling out to Windows 10 Insiders in the Fast ring, and will also be available for Insiders who opted in to ‘Skip Ahead‘. The highlight of Preview Build 16251 is the ability to link your Android device to your Windows PC as Microsoft is introducing the first set of features that enable this linking functionality. The current use case in this build focuses on cross-device web-browsing, and this build invites Windows Insiders to help test the experience on Android before the functionality makes it way onto the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (Redstone 3).

To get started with linking, install the newest Preview Build on your PC and link your phone by navigating through Settings –> Phone on your PC. Microsoft will send you an SMS with a link to a test application for Android called “Microsoft Apps” that is needed to complete the link between your phone and PC. Linking the devices in this manner ensures that your sessions are continued only on PCs which you have explicitly linked to, and not across all PCs where your Microsoft Account is present.

The test application on your Android device will add a share context “Continue on PC” in the share menu. So when the linking is complete, you can start browsing the web on your phone and share websites through this option. On the first invocation, the user will be asked to sign in with their Microsoft Account, and this account should be the same account that is used on the PC. Once the website has been shared from your Android device, it will show up on your linked PC. You can also defer the opening by selecting the “Continue Later” option, which will save the notification under the Microsoft Action Center panel for accessing later on.

If you would like to try out this feature, you would need to be enrolled into the Fast ring of the Windows Insider program. Jen Gentleman from Microsoft’s Shell team wrote up a quick info tutorial on the same over at Reddit:

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        First you’d need to register your MSA {Microsoft Account} or AAD {Azure Active Directory} for WIP {Windows Insider Program}, and then on your PC go to Settings > Update > Windows Insider Program and select which ring you’d like to be in.

Currently, the link functionality appears to be limited to tab pushing from your phone to your PC. This comes in handy for those of us who want to revisit articles on a bigger display and a proper setup. We wish to see PC->Phone tab pushing as well, as some URLs are better shared through our phones to other less tech-savvy users.

A popular use case for linking phone to PC is to send texts from your desktop and see your phone notifications. While this functionality is not currently included in the Insider update (nor any mention has been made of it coming in the future), Mr. Jen Gentlemen pointed out that similar functionality can be achieved using Cortana on both your PC and Android. You would need Cortana and the same Microsoft account on both phone and PC, and you will have to make sure your PC is using the Anniversary Update or a later release.

All linking functionality that we have seen so far, through Cortana or through this update, involves the use of a Microsoft Account. The success and popularity of these functionality will be affected by the existence of a Microsoft Account in the first place. While it may be trivial to create one, many users do not intend to bind themselves up with yet another company and migrate away to a different set of apps just to achieve functionality that could have been achieved by using WiFi and Bluetooth connections. That’s something for Microsoft to consider.

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