New leaked screenshots from the latest consumer build of Windows 10 show Microsoft is planning to add a new Xbox app and Cortana integration for the latest iteration of its desktop operating system.
A video posted by WinBeta shows that consumer build 9901 of Windows 10 carries its own Xbox app, which could be useful for users for connecting their Xbox video gaming systems to their desktop. WinBeta says the app appears to be a "gateway" for Windows 10 to gain access to the entire user's Xbox activity, including achievements, friends lists, activity feeds and the Store.
Earlier this month, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said on Twitter that he is working on what Xbox is doing for Windows 10.
@RpLayy I'll be focusing more on what we are doing on Win10 in January, it's time for us to talk about gaming on Windows.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) Dec. 12, 2014
Spencer, along with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Windows executives Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore, will be present at a Jan. 21 Windows 10 event where Microsoft is expected to unveil the January Technical Preview for consumer users.
The Xbox app appears to be in its early stages, but Microsoft is expected to include advanced features including integration with SmartGlass, which allows users to use their mobile devices as second screens.
Also to be expected from Windows 10 is full Cortana integration, which will bring voice commands to desktop users. Earlier this month, WinBeta released another video showing how Cortana for Windows will look in Windows 10, but the leak showed an unpolished design that needed more refinements.
The new leaks show Cortana for Windows 10 looking very similarly to Cortana for Windows Phone. Microsoft's personal digital assistant is placed right on top of the search bar, which includes a microphone icon and is open by default on the lower left part of the screen. Similar to Cortana for Windows Phone, Cortana for Windows 10 has full access to notebooks, reminders and interests.
Other major changes as detailed out by long-time Windows blogger Paul Thurott include a new Settings app that looks like the Control Panel, which could mean that Microsoft is moving towards the removal of the Control Panel altogether.
The taskbar has also been tweaked so that the color of the taskbar is the dark version of the foreground color chosen in the Settings app. Open apps will have their buttons underlined, with the active window selected on the task bar.
The Charms bar will also come back in Windows 10, but not without the settings charm. To have quick access to the Settings app, users can press WINKEY + I.
Thurott also says Modern apps will have full-screen buttons on the title bar, and the hamburger menu has replaced the old Windows menu button. Modern apps will also have their Settings pane appearing within the window frame, although they will still be able to "fly out" from the screen's edge.
As one would expect from a pre-release build, however, the design and layout of Cortana on Windows 10 as well as the various changes already leaked are still likely to change before the official Windows 10 is released sometime in mid-2015.