Windows Insiders got a new update on Wednesday that added a number of new features: Windows Sandbox, smartphone sign-in, a new settings menu design, and a new Office app. Microsoft also stripped out a lot of the icons from the default Start menu, making it a cleaner single column design on new installs, and there are all sorts of little tweaks and new features to the OS that look quite nice. But I'm mostly jazzed about a new shortcut menu that makes it easy to type essential symbols like the em dash and kaomoji.
That's right: Japanese text emojis are so important, they got their own Windows shortcut menu. Currently in Windows 10, pressing the Windows key + period or semicolon will pull up a shortcut menu for emoji. You can click one with the mouse pointer to insert it, or type to search for the name of a specific emoji. In Insider Preview Build 18305, Microsoft is pairing that with menus for kaomoji and generic symbols.
Here's what that looks like:
I'm not gonna lie: I'm pretty psyched about being able to pull up a menu that lets me type a (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ or a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ with ease. And the symbols menu will be super handy for typing in currencies other than the dollar, without the hassle of copying and pasting from somewhere.
The new Windows Sandbox "lightweight desktop environment" is a more serious addition, though probably just as fun for PC tinkerers. It essentially lets you spin up a Windows 10 virtual machine on your desktop "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."
Instead of going through the hassle to set up a virtual machine for testing, Windows is essentially offering it as a stock feature now. I'm sure it's not as powerful or flexible as a dedicated solution, but for simple testing, it seems like a great convenience. Sandbox will work for Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users.
Another small but nice tweak in the new update: you'll be able to set a default tab for the task manager, so you can always look at your performance screen instead of the processes when you open it up, for example.
You can read more about all the new features, as well as mountains of bug fixes, on the Windows blog (opens in new tab). If you're not on Microsoft's fast ring builds (and we wouldn't recommend it unless you like living dangerously), expect to see these updates hit your PC next spring.