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Microsoft sprints to finish, emits possible Windows 10 RC build

Ready or not, here it comes

Microsoft has released yet another preview build of Windows 10, this time to both the Fast and Slow rings of the Windows Insider program, and it looks suspiciously like it could be a release candidate.

"Over the past few days we've been preparing our release pipelines and processes, and this build is one step closer to what customers will start to receive on 7/29," Gabe Aul, Microsoft's Windows Insider ambassador, wrote in a blog post.

There are a couple of telltale signs that this release, Build 10240, is different from previous ones. For one thing, the code name for the build when you download it from Windows Update has changed.

Earlier builds were labeled "fbl_impressive," plus the build number. Build 10240 is labeled "TH1," where the "TH" likely stands for Threshold, the original codename for Windows 10.

What the "1" means isn't clear, although it could be a designation similar to "RC1," the name generally given to the first release candidate – meaning a build that's being weighed as possibly being the one that will be declared final.

Another sign that this build is very close to the one that will be released to manufacturers is that the desktop watermark has been removed. Previous builds listed the build number and "Windows Insider Preview" on the lower right-hand side of the desktop. This one doesn't.

Aul didn't say anything to indicate that this will be the absolute last build that Windows Insiders will receive. In fact, he suggested there may be more forthcoming – and even if there are no more full builds, we can probably expect some significant incremental patches to the current build.

"Besides builds, over the next 2 weeks you'll also see some Windows Updates and app updates in the Store, so make sure to keep checking for updates daily to make sure you're running the latest and greatest code," Aul wrote.

Your preview run of the Office 2015 apps is over

On a related note, Aul revealed that the Office Apps for Windows 10 will ship just before Windows 10 itself does, and that there will be no grace period for testers who don't have Office 365 accounts.

Note that these are just the touch-friendly Universal App versions of the Office applications, and not the full desktop Office 2016 versions. Microsoft has even added the word "Mobile" to the names of the apps to distinguish them from their more full-featured cousins.

According to Aul, Redmond will drop the word "Preview" from the app names in around one week. Once that happens, viewing documents using the apps will still be free, but you'll need an Office 365 subscription to edit documents.

The one exception is the OneNote Mobile app, which will come preinstalled with Windows 10 and will remain free to edit. The full-featured desktop version of OneNote, similarly, has been a free download since February 2015. ®

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