Whether you love it or loathe it, Windows 10 is now the water we are swimming in as PC users and will be the dominant operating system for many years to come. Arguably the best thing about Windows 10 is that Microsoft programmers are constantly working to improve the efficiency and productivity within the operating system, rather than simply looking forward to developing the next OS. Over the last several years, major feature updates have been rolled up into periodic “Creator’s Updates.” One such creator’s update was promised in the Spring of 2018, but the Windows version that went live in the final days of April is now being referred to as the April 2018 Update (or Windows 10 version 1803 for the techies among us). So, what can we expect from this latest update?
Keen observers of Windows 10’s layout will already be aware of the “Task Viewer” button, located next to Cortana along the left side of the taskbar. The update brings new functionality to this feature, renaming it to “Timeline.” Where before, a click on the task viewer would provide a tiled layout of all open programs, the Timeline will now display thumbnails of apps, documents and tasks you have used within the last 30 days, allowing you to easily pick up where you left off after reboots, or jump back to documents and other projects you work on periodically. Think browser history for your entire computer. If the thought of another person being able to pull up your activity for the last month fills you with a sudden sense of dread, don’t worry, you can disable this function under the Settings>Privacy>Activity History.
Look Ma’ No Flash Drive!
Microsoft has rolled out its own version of something Mac users have enjoyed for several years; quick data transfers between Bluetooth enabled devices. If you are running multiple devices with Bluetooth and want to transfer a file, you can simply click the “Share” button in Edge, File Explorer or Photos and select from the devices within range. Bluetooth pairing also gets a remake, with an easier, faster button interface from the action center, rather than a list buried in a Settings menu.
A New Look
Users who spend a lot of time in the Settings menu will find fresh visual flairs, designs and new ways to tweak your display or graphics options. Opening the start menu and hovering the mouse over items in the All Apps or Tiles section will yield a pop-up animation giving a preview or app options. Microsoft’s Fluent Design elements will change the look of the start menu, task bar and action center to their Acrylic theme—densely translucent, allowing the background images to blur through. Longtime Windows users will be reminded of the visual touches rolled out in Windows Vista. Vista visual effects were often turned off by techs seeking to conserve computing power for essential tasks and it says a lot about how far we’ve come that PCs now have an OS that looks great without sacrificing performance.
At MCR, we’ve had to assist clients who had changed or set a password for their Windows 10 machine, only to forget it or be confused about what it was. If you log into Windows 10 using a Microsoft account, it’s possible to reset your password—if you’re using a local account, you’re out of luck. The April 2018 update has an answer to this problem; it allows users with local accounts to set up 3 security questions. If you forget your password but can answer the 3 challenges, you can regain access to your account.
Many of the tweaks embodied in this update are breakouts for additional options within already existing menus. Microsoft is really enabling users to fine tune their OS for their needs. It’s now possible to adjust how much internet bandwidth is used for updates in the background. Windows Defender, the integrated antivirus, is being renamed to Windows Security and allows you to review which areas of your machine are being protected. There are also new ways to manage the permissions for each app and adjust what information Microsoft can collect about you and your habits. The Edge browser has gotten some design improvements and some added functionality, including being able to mute individual tabs.
Windows 10 has been and continues to be a work in progress and the April 2018 Update illustrates that completely. Microsoft is genuinely invested in continuing to tweak and perfect its flagship OS to be better, more efficient and look good while doing it. There are sure to be some bumps along the way, but this update shows that Microsoft is moving in the right direction. If you have questions about the latest update to Windows 10, just ask Cortana for the number for Mankato Computer Repair.