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Operating Systems

How to get the latest build for Windows 10

Microsoft keeps enhancing each new build for its Windows 10 Technical Preview. Here's how to ensure you're running the latest edition.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Heads up, those of you who've been checking out Microsoft's Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Microsoft keeps tweaking its Windows 10 Preview with new builds packed with new features. These builds have been coming out on a fairly regular basis. The initial Windows 10 Technical Preview debuted on October 1. The next build, dubbed Build 9860, came out about three weeks ago. And on Wednesday, Microsoft launched Build 9879.

And why are these new builds so important?

With the lackluster response to Windows 8, Microsoft is under pressure to make sure it gets Windows 10 right. To that end, the software giant has opened the door to a Windows Insider Preview Program. The purpose of the program is to encourage people to download and install Windows 10 and share their opinions with Microsoft so the company knows if it's on the right track. Keeping up with the latest builds ensures that you're your feedback is relevant and up to date.

So, just how do you make sure you're running the latest build?

Let's assume you're already running the Windows 10 Technical Preview. If not, you can install it on your current PC, which isn't recommended unless you do it on a spare computer. Otherwise, you can download it as an ISO file. You can then copy that file to a DVD or USB drive to install on another PC, in a separate partition, or as a virtual machine on your current computer.

In my case, I set up Windows 10 in a virtual machine on one computer and in a second partition on another computer.

Okay, so you've got Windows 10 running. Now how do you grab the latest build?

  • Assuming you're using Windows 10 via the new Start menu, click the Start button and then click the option for PC settings.
  • At the PC settings screen, click the setting for Update and recovery.
  • At the Update and recovery screen, click the option for Preview builds.
  • At the Preview builds screen, click the button to Check now.

Windows will tell you if a new build is available and display a Download now button. If not, a message appears telling you that no new preview mode was found.

  • Assuming a new build is available, click the Download now button. Windows will start downloading and then install the new build.
  • After the build has been installed, Windows prompts you to reboot your PC.
  • Reboot, log back in, and the new build will be ready and waiting.

You can confirm that you're running the latest build by looking at the lower right portion of the desktop. You'll see the label Windows Technical Preview Evaluation Copy followed by the number of the build. As this point, the latest build is 9879. The next time you run this process, you should see a higher build number.

You can then play around with the new build to see what you like, what works and what doesn't work. For example, Microsoft's OneDrive feature is not working properly in the latest build. As the company pushes out new versions of Windows 10, you'll find new features and new bugs.

To chime in with your feedback, click the Start button and then click the Windows Feedback tile. At the Windows Feedback page, you can then select a specific category and feature to see the feedback from other users and add your own.

Microsoft undoubtedly already has its own ideas for shaping the final version of Windows 10. But the company will certainly rely on some of the feedback it receives. In other words, the future of Windows 10 is partly in your hands.