Today Microsoft has released a new Build dubbed as Windows 10 18305(19H1) to the Insiders in the Fast ring. This new build lots of exciting new feature and improvements along with bug fixes. And as you might have guessed, Build 18305 is the last Build of 2018. This means you have to wait until the holidays are over.

Here is a list of everything you need to know in Build 18305:

A simplified Start layout

Based on feedback, Microsoft is introducing a simplified default Start layout for new devices, new user accounts, and clean installs. The new layout has been simplified into a sleek one column design with reduced top-level tiles. Commercial and education customers will also see a simplified layout tailored to these scenarios.

Coupled with earlier changes providing the ability to uninstall additional inbox apps, and a new way to easily to unpin a folder or group of tiles, the simplified Start layout is part of an ongoing effort designed to enhance the Start experience in the upcoming release of Windows.

Screenshot showing the simplified Start layout with a sleek single column design and reduced top-level tiles.

Note: When you update to this build, your Start layout won’t automatically change to the new layout because Microsoft wants everything to be exactly as you left it before you did the update.

Introducing Windows Sandbox!

Windows Sandbox is a new lightweight desktop environment tailored for safely running applications in isolation.

How many times have you downloaded an executable file, but were afraid to run it? Have you ever been in a situation which required a clean installation of Windows, but didn’t want to set up a virtual machine?

At Microsoft, Microsoft regularly encounters these situations, so Microsoft developed Windows Sandbox: an isolated desktop environment where you can run untrusted software without the fear of lasting impact to your device. Any software installed in Windows Sandbox stays only in the sandbox and cannot affect your host. Once Windows Sandbox is closed, all the software with all of its files and state are permanently deleted.

Windows Sandbox has the following properties:

  • Part of Windows – everything required for this feature ships with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. No need to download a VHD!
  • Pristine – every time Windows Sandbox runs, it’s as clean as a brand-new installation of Windows
  • Disposable – nothing persists on the device; everything is discarded after you close the application
  • Secure – uses hardware-based virtualization for kernel isolation, which relies on the Microsoft Hypervisor to run a separate kernel which isolates Windows Sandbox from the host
  • Efficient – uses integrated kernel scheduler, smart memory management, and virtual GPU

To install Windows Sandbox, go to Settings > Apps > Apps & Features > Programs and Features > Turn Windows Features on or off, and then select Enable Windows Sandbox.

To start Windows Sandbox, open the Start menu, enter Windows Sandbox and then select it.

Showing a full screen desktop screenshot with a Windows Sandbox window open

Windows Sandbox respects the host diagnostic data settings. All other privacy settings are set to their default values.

For more information, please visit Windows Sandbox at Windows Kernel Internals.

Known issues

  • When Windows Sandbox is first installed and on every servicing event a setup process will run and trigger significant CPU and disk activity for a minute or so.
  • Opening the Start menu in Windows Sandbox takes some time and some Start Menu apps will not run.
  • The time zone is not synchronized between Windows Sandbox and the host.
  • Windows Sandbox does not support installers which require reboot.
  • The Microsoft Store is not supported in Windows Sandbox.
  • Windows Sandbox does not support high dpi displays very well.
  • Windows Sandbox does not fully support multi-monitor configurations.

Windows Security app improvements

New Protection History experience: Based on the suggestions and feedback the Protection history experience in Windows Security has been completely revamped. The new Protection History experience still shows you detections by Windows Defender Antivirus, but it’s now updated to also give more detailed and easier to understand information about threats and available actions. Microsoft has also added Controlled folder access blocks to history, along with any blocks which are made through organizational configuration of Attack Surface Reduction Rules. If you use the Windows Defender Offline scanning tool, any detections it makes will now also show in your history.  Additionally, you will see any pending recommendations (red or yellow states from throughout the app) in the history list.

Revamped Protection history in the Windows Security app

Introducing Tamper Protection! Tamper Protection is a new setting from Windows Defender Antivirus, available in the Windows Security app, which when on, provides additional protections against changes to key security features, including limiting changes which are not made directly through the Windows Security app. You can find this setting under Windows Security > Virus & Threat Protection > Virus & Threat Protection Settings.

Showing Tamper Protection toggle (switched On).


Symbols and Kaomoji are now just a hotkey away!

Ever tried to type an em dash, and couldn’t remember the Alt key code? Wanted to post “flipping the table” in social media, but couldn’t remember the sequence of characters? When you press WIN+(period) or WIN+(semicolon), in addition to emoji the picker that appears will now include symbols and kaomoji too!

You may ask, what is kaomoji? Translated literally from Japanese, it means “face characters” – basically, it’s a way to create faces using only text. You may already use them, for example the one mentioned above is relatively popular: (?°?°)?? ???

Diving more into the symbols side, you’ll find Microsoft has included sections for punctuation, currency, geometric, math, Latin, and language symbols. As you pick your most commonly used symbols, the most recently used tab will populate with them, so it will be even easier to select them next time.

Currently, only the emoji section supports type to search.

Showing that WIN+(period) will now have an emoji section, a kaomoji section, and a symbols section

This experience, originally introduced for Chinese (Simplified) during RS5 development, started rolling out to Insiders across all languages with Build 18252 – as of today’s it’s now available to all Insiders in Fast!

Clipboard history gets a new look

Have you already tried using clipboard history? If enabled, it allows you to save multiple clipboard items to use later. Introduced during RS5 development, Microsoft has been getting great feedback from everyone on this experience, and one of the things Microsoft heard most is that the UI wasn’t compact enough – a large space was used for each entry even if it was just a small text fragment. Microsoft originally opted to show bigger entries so there was space to show an image preview nicely, but when Microsoft looked at their data, Microsoft found 90% of items in the clipboard history were text. Based on that and your feedback, Microsoft now optimizing the design for text snippets – shrinking the height of each entry and thus giving you access to more entries without needing to scroll the view.

Hope you like the change Microsoft made! Copy some text and press Windows logo key + V to check out the updated design.

Clipboard history now shows five items per a page.

Signing in to Windows with password-less Microsoft accounts  

Microsoft is pushing forward on eliminating passwords and keeping your accounts safe with another cool feature. Today, Microsoft is announcing support for setting up and signing in to Windows with a phone number account, without having to create, or deal with the hassle of a password! ?If you have a Microsoft account with your phone number, you can use an SMS code to sign in, and set up your account on Windows 10. Once you’ve setup your account, you can use Windows Hello Face, Fingerprint, or a PIN (depending on your device capabilities) to sign in to Windows 10. No password needed anywhere!

Creating a password-less phone number account

If you don’t already have a password-less phone number account, you can create one in a mobile app like Word to try it out. Simply go to Word and sign up with your phone number by entering your phone number under “Sign in or sign up for free”.

Add your password-less phone number account to Windows 

Now that you’ve created a password-less phone number account, you can use it to sign in to Windows with the following steps:

  1. Add your account to Windows from Settings > Accounts > Family & other Users > “Add someone else to this PC”.
  1. Lock your device and select your phone number account from the Windows sign-in screen.
  1. Since your account doesn’t have a password, select ‘Sign in options’, click the alternative ‘PIN’ tile, and click ‘Sign in’.
  1. Go through web sign in and Windows Hello set up (this is what you’ll use to sign in to your account on subsequent sign ins)
  1. You can now enjoy the benefits of signing in to Windows with your password-less phone number account.

Note: This experience is currently only available for Insiders on Home edition. We’ll let you know when it expands to more editions

Streamlined Windows Hello PIN reset experience

Microsoft know remembering a PIN can be tricky, so Microsoft wanted to provide our Microsoft account users with a revamped Windows Hello PIN reset experience with the same look and feel as signing in on the web. Check it out in today’s build by clicking the ‘I forgot my PIN’ link when signing in to Windows with a PIN.

Revamped Windows Hello PIN reset for Microsoft account users [preview only]

Note: This experience is currently only available for Insiders on Home edition. We’ll let you know when it expands to more editions.

Keep your device running smoothly with recommended troubleshooting

Microsoft can automatically fix certain critical problems on your Windows device to keep it running smoothly. For example, Microsoft may automatically restore default settings for critical services, adjust feature settings to match your hardware configuration, or make other specific changes required for Windows to operate normally. Critical troubleshooting happens automatically and can’t be turned off.

Microsoft will also recommend troubleshooting for other problems that aren’t critical to normal Windows operation but might be impacting your experience. For example, Microsoft may recommend turning off a setting that sometimes causes an app or feature to crash unexpectedly until an update is available. We’ll let you know when Microsoft can help, and you can choose to run the troubleshooter or ignore it. You can also change how recommended troubleshooting is run on your device by opening Start > Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback.

You may see recommended troubleshooting from us while Microsoft test the feature. These tests, marked as “sample recommended troubleshooter”, are safe to run and will not make any changes to your device. The tests help to ensure that the feature is working as designed and give you an opportunity to give feedback, so Microsoft can help keep your device working at its best.

You will see this notification when there is a recommended troubleshooter available for your device:

Screenshot showing a notification saying “We can fix a problem on your device”

After clicking the notification, you’ll see this screen, where you can choose whether or not to run the recommended troubleshooter.

Screenshot showing the Troubleshoot section of Settings, with a message saying “We can help your device run better. Try out the recommended troubleshooting”

Automatic Restart and Sign On (ARSO) for Enterprises

Are you tired of seeing these flashing screens after every update?

Flashing screens after an update Flashing screens after an update

ARSO is a feature that automatically signs-in a user after an update to finish setting up and then locks the PC. This feature is part of our Seamless Update Story for Windows, and its goal is to reduce customer pain points around updates, including things such as post logon set up time and not being able to pick up where you left off.

This feature will be enabled on Cloud Domain Joined devices that meet certain security requirements:

  • BitLocker is enabled and is not suspended during the upgrade
  • TPM 2.0
  • SecureBoot

To check if your device will get ARSO go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options > Privacy:

Settings page that shows how to configure ARSO

If the toggle is switched “On” and is not grayed out, then the device meets the security requirements for ARSO, and is enabled by default.

If the toggle is grayed out and Enabled, this means that your IT Admin has explicitly enabled ARSO for you, irrespective of your device’s security requirements.

If the toggle is grayed out and disabled, this means that you do not meet the minimum security requirements for Enterprise ARSO, or your IT Admin has explicitly disabled ARSO for you, irrespective of your device’s security requirements.

Set a default Task Manager tab

Do you have a preferred tab in Task Manager – one that you always immediately switch to? Microsoft is happy to share you can now choose your own default tab! When you launch Task Manager, it will now to jump directly to your preferred tab.

You can set your preferred tab via Options > Set default tab.

Showing the new feature to set the default tab in Task Manager.

Updated Settings Homepage

In this build, Microsoft is introducing a new way to help users finish their Windows setup and quickly access some of the most frequently used settings. Inspired by the Microsoft account homepage, the Settings home page now has a header at the top allowing you to take quick action for things like signing in and managing your Microsoft account, making the Windows and Microsoft experience better. It also gives you an easy to glance at system status, such as when updates are available.

Some of you may have already seen this in previous builds, but don’t worry if not, Microsoft is continuing to roll this out slowly and you will see it in an upcoming build.Showing the new header at the top of Settings, with Edge open to in the background

Friendly Dates in File Explorer

With Build 18272, Microsoft mentioned some Insiders may notice a few small changes to File Explorer. Microsoft promised details, and sharing the updated default downloads folder sorting was the first part of that. The second part of it is this: Microsoft is trying out a new default date format in File Explorer! Called friendly dates, you can see an example of how it looks in the image below.

Why make the change? The new format simplifies the date modified column and provides consistency with other views that you see throughout the OS, apps, and on the web.

In Build 18305, Microsoft is making it a bit easier to turn off if it’s not your thing – you no longer have to dig through settings, you can now just right-click on the date modified column and toggle friendly dates on and off from there.

Friendly dates isn’t yet available for everyone, but will roll out to everyone later.

Showing context menu for when you right-click the column header, with option saying Use Friendly Dates. Date format is more conversational.

Shadows are back!

As some keen-eyed Insiders have noticed, Microsoft recently started re-rolling out the shadows work Microsoft originally introduced with Build 17711.

Shadows are part of our long-term vision of the evolution of Fluent Design, and Microsoft is excited to bring them back to you today after addressing some of the feedback you shared with us following the initial rollout.

Showing an example of a flyout with a shadow

Re-releasing the new Japanese IME

Thank you for your valuable feedback on our new Japanese IME. A few weeks ago, Microsoft took the IME offline in order to address some of the feedback shared with us, and Microsoft is now ready to start rolling out the IME again to Insiders. The latest version of the IME has enhanced key customization options and improved candidate window reliability (fixing an issue where it wouldn’t show), and Microsoft is looking forward to you trying it out. Because Microsoft want to ensure the best possible typing experience, this will be a staggered rollout – some Insiders will get it today, and Microsoft will carefully review both metrics and your comments before pushing the IME out to everyone. Looking forward to you trying it out and sharing feedback!

Note: Microsoft are aware of compatibility issues with some game applications and the team is working on them –  they will let you know when this has been addressed.

Showing the Key Assignment option for the Japanese IME

Introducing the Office app for Windows 10

This month, Windows Insiders get their first look at the new Office app, a simple experience designed to help users get the most out of Office and get back into their work quickly. This app is based on the redesigned experience, which has had great user feedback and has changed how many of our web users engage with Office on a daily basis.

The app is a great starting point for Office that helps you easily find all your files in one place or easily access any Office solution available to you. It knows to connect you to the Office rich clients if they are installed on your computer or it will send you to the web version of Office if they’re not. IT will also appreciate the ability to customize the app by integrating other line of business applications that use Azure Active Directory into the experience and apply corporate branding to the app.

New Office icons that will be coming soon for Insiders

Please see the Microsoft 365 Blog post for more information on the Office app.

Note: You may notice the new Office icons in the screenshot above! They aren’t live for Insiders yet, but Microsoft wanted you to get a taste of what it will look like once they are.

Get more done with Cortana and Microsoft To-Do

Want just one to-do list that works twice as hard for you? Save time and stay organized – Cortana helps by adding your reminders and tasks to your lists in Microsoft To-Do with this feature preview, so you can stay on top of what matters most. Use your voice, your PC, your phone – your choice.

Streamline your tasks – your lists and reminders from across Microsoft To-Do, Cortana, and tasks in Outlook can now become one, centrally located in your Microsoft To-Do app. Use Microsoft To-Do anywhere: on your Android or iPhone, with Cortana, or on your Windows 10 PC. You can also access it from the web. It’s automatically synced so you never miss a beat.

When you ask Cortana to add milk to your grocery list, it’ll show up on one of your Microsoft To-Do lists.

When you ask Cortana to add milk to your grocery list, it’ll show up on one of your Microsoft To-Do lists.

Or, ask Cortana to remind you to call a friend and see the reminder appear in your Microsoft To-Do planned list.

Ask Cortana to remind you to call a friend and see the reminder appear in your Microsoft To-Do planned list.

With this integration, Microsoft are furthering efforts to seamlessly sync your to-do lists across Microsoft To-Do, Cortana, and your tasks in Outlook. Learn more about the Microsoft To-Do and Outlook task integration.

To start syncing, your Windows 10 PC must be running Build 18267+ and tied to either the Australia, India, US, or UK region. Learn more about the Microsoft To-Do and Cortana integration. To share feedback, join the cohort or use the Windows Feedback Hub. use the Windows Feedback Hub.

General changes, improvements, and fixes for PC

  • Microsoft fixed an issue resulting in bug checks with error “KERNEL SECURITY CHECK FAILURE” while creating/launching VMs or installing/performing scans with certain AV Apps.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where the Open Folder icon in File Explorer had a white background when using dark theme.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue in the previous build where Settings was crashing when opening Speech Settings.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where the Action Center didn’t have an opening animation in the last few flights.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where the activities listed so you could easily pick up where you left off when opening search all had an unexpectedly old timestamp.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where the search box in the taskbar had a truncated dark border in light theme.
  • Microsoft fixed a few scenarios that could result in the taskbar unexpectedly becoming transparent.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue that could result in taskhostw.exe unexpectedly using a large amount of CPU for a long time.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where Settings would crash when clicking on the “View storage usage on other drives” option under System > Storage in recent builds.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where “Delete previous version of Windows” in Configure Storage Sense was not selectable.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue resulting in Backup unexpectedly failing for some with a message saying the media is write protected (error code 0x80070013).
  • When the Search section is visible in Settings it will now come before Update & Security.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where some pages in Settings had more space at the top than others.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue resulting in ? and some other characters not appearing correctly in certain text fields.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where the Windows Ink Workspace was using the old Microsoft Store icon.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where the emoji picker might draw partially offscreen if invoked near the bottom of the screen.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where the second line of the input indicator in the taskbar, when shown, wasn’t legible in light theme.
  • Microsoft has updated our message in the Snipping Tool to include a tip about using WIN+Shift+S to help improve discoverability – thanks folks that suggested this!
  • Microsoft fixed an issue where in the Details tab of Task Manager you couldn’t sort by the “Shared GPU memory” column.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue resulting in ShellExperienceHost.exe preventing the device from going to sleep with message “A Miracast Session is currently connected.” despite said session having already been disconnected.
  • Microsoft fixed an issue from the previous flight where on some systems the High Definition Audio Controller failed to start with Code 10, resulting in no audio from the onboard speakers and microphone.

Known issues

  • The hyperlink colors need to be refined in Dark Mode in Sticky Notes if the Insights are enabled.
  • The Windows Security app may show an unknown status for the Virus & threat protection area, or not refresh properly. This may occur after upgrade, restart, or settings changes.
  • The cmimanageworker.exe process may hang, causing system slowness or higher than normal CPU usage. This can be bypassed by rebooting the machine if it occurs.
  • Launching games that use BattlEye anti-cheat will trigger a bug check (green screen) – Microsoft is investigating.
  • USB printers may appear twice in the Devices and Printers under Control Panel. Reinstalling the printer will resolve the issue.
  • Microsoft is investigating an issue where clicking your account in Cortana Permissions isn’t bringing up the UI to sign out from Cortana (if you were already signed in) for some users in this build.
  • If you’re using Hyper-V and have added an external vSwitch in addition to the default, many UWP apps won’t be able to connect to the internet. Removing the additional vSwitch will resolve this.
  • The Task Scheduler UI may appear blank even though there are scheduled tasks. For now, you’ll need to use the command line if you want to see them.
  • Creative X-Fi sound cards are not functioning properly. Microsoft are partnering with Creative to resolve this issue.
  • When attempting to update to build 18305 some S Mode devices will download and restart, but fail the update.

Known issues for Developers

  • If you install any of the recent builds from the Fast ring and switch to the Slow ring – optional content such as enabling developer mode will fail. You will have to remain in the Fast ring to add/install/enable optional content. This is because optional content will only install on builds approved for specific rings.