Microsoft’s Windows 10 October 2018 Update, officially re-released on Nov. 13, doesn’t provide the standout, marquee features you might have arrived at expect from earlier releases. But as our review demonstrates, several additional features highlight an extended list of under-the-hood, day-to-day improvements.
Our review is dependant on the final Windows 10 Insider Builds, which led up to the official October 2018 Update. Microsoft doesn’t appear to have added anything using the final build, but we’ll check and update this story to reflect any last-minute changes. (Microsoft placed the original launch of the Oct. 2018 Update, also known as version 1809, on hold after a little users suffered loss of data.)
We’ve assigned a review score, but, as always, pay less attention to the amount rather than the way the October 2018 Update will affect you. We’ve separated what we’d call “the little things”-everyday features and conveniences-into their very own article, covering automated OneDrive backups, for instance, and independent text resizing. Here, we’ll discuss the major new features: apps like Your Phone and Microsoft Font Maker, and just how the nifty little Cloud Clipboard works in the real world. One’s particularly important to note: Microsoft Edge.
Microsoft Edge has become an everyday browser
Many initially characterized Edge in the same way they saw Ie: like a vehicle to download Chrome or Firefox, then ignore forever. And who can blame them? It’s been three years since Edge was first introduced, and it’s at the moment gained enough features and performance to be a viable competitor.
Microsoft has long argued that Edge enables longer battery life than the competition-a case we proved a short time ago. Within our extensive testing to look for the best Internet browser from June, Edge’s performance starts to shine through-with one caveat, as we wrote then: “The fact is, as a day-to-day browser Edge is serviceable at best, and Microsoft really needs to step-up its game especially when you are looking at loading multiple tabs.”
Opening 20 media-heavy tabs now feels about 90 to 95 percent of what of I would expect in terms of performance, and that’s with no ad blocker like Ghostery enabled. Pages are almost instantly navigable. The only real glitch I notice is the fact that Ctrl+Tab functionality for opening one more tab isn’t immediately responsive. I can go back and forth between pages very easily. Edge will “tombstone” idle pages, however, and that still slows down open tabs a bit more than I’d like.
As for new features, Edge now blocks videos from autoplaying on individual websites. It works pretty much, though you’ll still see a video window or popup load even if the video doesn’t play. Actually, if you wish to read a news story without ads or video, you could click on the existing “Reading view” book icon in the URL bar-it’s a great feature of Edge, and many people don’t utilize it. And when you need to do, Edge now enables you to highlight words and get definitions right inside the right-click popup window, a feature that reaches ebooks. You’ll also see helpful shortcuts like “Show in folder” inside the Downloads tab within Edge, making downloaded files easy to find.
Google Chrome continues to be far better than Edge in migrating Favorites via the cloud to a new machine. Edge still has trouble passing along passwords. But Edge isn’t painful to make use of anymore. I feel it’s close enough for day-to-day use.
‘Cloud’ Clipboard is really a neat trick
Everyone right now knows the shortcuts for cutting and pasting text within Windows: Ctrl+X to chop or Ctrl+C to repeat, then Ctrl+V to paste. However this clipboard function has improved in 2 different, significant ways within the the October 2018 Update, and they’re two of the best new features.
Within a new setting, Settings > System > Clipboard, you’ll see two options that you can turn on or off: “Clipboard history,” and “Sync across devices.” You’ll need to be signed in a Microsoft account for the second to operate.
When toggled on, the new shortcut Win + V opens past links, images, and text snippets you’ve cut and pasted, and enables you to select them again. Once you use it, you’ll begin to see the appeal.
My only issues with Clipboard’s history are that how far back it is going seems somewhat arbitrary, which the Clipboard window isn’t movable. Pro-privacy users have the choice of turning Clipboard’s cloud storage off. You may also erase what’s stored in Clipboard in your tool and within the cloud, through the Settings menu.
Syncing across devices is better still: It’s a fancy name for copying text from one PC (Ctrl+X or Ctrl+C), and then paste it on another. Yes, if you’re signed in, whatever you cut or copy on a single PC (as much as 4MB) is going to be automagically pasted into the app you’re using on another PC, via the cloud, by typing Ctrl+V. (Both PCs should be attached to the Internet.) The 4MB limit is a painful crimp around the feature’s utility, and it pales as compared to the awesome Mouse without Borders app, plus other solutions for transferring files wirelessly between PCs. However the new Clipboard wins because of its simplicity.
Your Phone: A work happening
I was disappointed by the underwhelming Windows roadmap Microsoft presented at Build, and I can’t help being somewhat let down by the Your Phone app as well-in part, because we’ve seen a number of this before. Prior to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update debuted, Microsoft displayed a clever method to tie your phone for your PC via Cortana, so you could reply to texts sent to your phone. Enabling Cortana on your phone and PC provided a convenient outcomes of both devices.
Disappointingly, Microsoft ditched it. Your Phone, a new app which (may) appear as a shortcut fitted desktop, now requires the Your Phone Companion app (formerly known as the Microsoft Apps app) to be placed on your Android or iOS phone-yes, another Microsoft mobile app to sit down alongside Edge, Bing, Cortana, or the Microsoft Launcher. (Microsoft has utilized some of these as phone-to-PC bridges before.)
All of your Phone does is allow you to open, view, copy, and share photos that you simply took in your phone, in addition to send and reply to texts. (Deleting a photo from your phone erases it from Your Phone, too.) While that’s handy, if your phone automatically backs up photos to OneDrive, the built-in Windows 10 Photos app already provides this functionality. Texts can also already be sent via Cortana, too, though Your Phone is a convenient shortcut.
I suppose there’s an increasing frustration within the Windows team that key features within the platform like Cortana, are going unused. But will we need another app? Or maybe we all do, is it wiser than Pushbullet?
To become fair, Your Phone is easy and simple to make use of. What we’re seeing at OS launch is a instant to have an app that will likely still evolve, just like pen and voice interactions are gradually working their way into every PC life. Let’s refer to it as a modest start for which we all know is a future where smartphones and Windows PCs collaborate ought to be course.
Microsoft Font Maker is really a fun little gimmick
Microsoft Font Maker isn’t specifically built into the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, though Microsoft released it during its beta phase. In fact, you ought to be in a position to download Font Maker in the Microsoft Store and start using it to make simple fonts out of your own handwriting immediately.
Font Maker works best having a digital pen and a tablet, so from that standpoint it’s somewhat limiting. All you need to do is ink each letter and number in the provided template. When you’re finished, you’ll have formulated a font that you can save to Windows and use within Word, PowerPoint, or wherever. It’s simple, fun, along with a bit gimmicky, but feels very Microsoft in the integration of creativity and productivity. Interested? Here’s our tutorial teaching you using Microsoft Font Maker.
Skype for Windows 10 tries a bit too hard to be fun
At this point, Skype is a little a mess. Part of the problem is this is the quantity of versions: must i use Skype for Business? Skype’s Office 365 app? Video calls included in Microsoft Teams? Skype’s online app? Or would I be better off using the built-in Windows 10 app instead? Additionally the numerous previews and betas which have come and reviewed time, and it’s no real surprise that many have turned to mobile competitors like WhatsApp instead. (Skype is also on phones, of course, where its UI was criticized heavily.)
Using the October 2018 Update, the native app within Windows is receiving the Skype redesign that was announced last year-and, to be honest, lots of people actively dislike. Having a UI that leans heavily toward the customer, you’ll find emoticons (if you want an avocadolove emoticon, Skype has you covered), stickers, emojis, reactions to comments, a gallery window to talk about files and other documents-but no GIFs?
Yes, you may still text chat, perform individual and group video calls, and so on, but there’s a definite emphasis on making Skype fun, while reserving serious, business communication for Microsoft Teams. (Microsoft Teams recently announced a strong free version that may lure classical Skype users.) Whether you like the brand new look of Skype will likely be a matter of taste.
Cortana + Alexa, Snip & Sketch, and other bit players
Microsoft published over 30 separate Insider builds included in the run-up towards the October 2018 Update, and just what filtered out at the bottom included some smaller features that you may want to take a look at.
Raytracing support is here now: We weren’t able to nail this down by the time we originally published the review, but Nvidia confirmed to PCWorld’s Brad Chacos that the October 2018 Update supports DirectX Raytracing, the API which will power the upcoming Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080 GPU. It’s a small but significant improvement: merely a small percentage of gamers will buy the 2080 cards at launch. But ray tracing paints a 3D scene inside a much more lifelike way than traditional PC graphics, modelling individual photons because they bounce off and pass through various objects and surfaces.
Cortana, Alexa; Alexa, Cortana: After at least a year, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are now skills in their respective services. If you tell Cortana to spread out Alexa, you’ll have access to everything Alexa can do, including putting in an order from Amazon. May possibly not be considered a new feature within the October 2018 Update, per se, but it’s still a new accessory for Windows.
Snip & Sketch: Screenshotting tools are the stock in trade for individuals who write about Windows, and Windows 10 soon will get a brand new one: Snip & Sketch, which will replace the Snipping Tool currently within Windows. (You’ll obtain a note to that particular effect any time you open it. Also, technology-not only in place of the PrtScreen command.) Snip & Sketch combines a screenshotting tool with the drawing tools obtainable in Photos and elsewhere. My biggest complaint is that each screenshot opens another instance of the app.
HD Color Settings: Pricey HDR-equipped PC monitors probably sell as well as pricey touchscreen-enabled desktop monitors (as with, not so). But when you’re one of the lucky few that has invested in an HDR display, you’ll find new controls (Settings > Display > Windows HD Color Settings) within the Display Settings menu that will help you determine if you’re able to use apps with HDR or wide color gamut settings. Oddly, there’s both an HD Color setting and an HDR calibration menu. Toggling off and on the HDR setting on a Surface Pro 2017 did make a small difference, even through the display wasn’t specifically rated for HDR.
Font installation for everyone: Windows previously treated adding fonts like a protected function, suitable only for administrators. Now, you can now go to the Fonts section within the Microsoft Store app and download away.
Mixed-reality “flashlight:” From what we should can easily see, Windows Mixed Reality is a bust. However for those who have bought into Microsoft’s vision of virtual reality, Microsoft provides you with a lifeline: Rather than wandering around your living room fearful you’ll trip on your cat, Windows Mixed Reality now offers a “flashlight view” that teaches you what’s going on in real life before you (which would normally be blocked from your headset.) A YouTube user named Cappaholic includes a brief video showing the “flashlight” for action.
What’s missing, and what’s next
Some of the new additions that Microsoft tested out within its Insider previews were held back for any future release. The tabbed version of Windows, referred to as Sets, holds promise as an alternate UI for single-screen experiences like laptops, whose windows can get lost among all of the clutter-but it’s not here yet. Planned updates to incorporate detailed geekier details like frame rates and CPU utilization hanging around Bar were scrapped, though it’s still been overhauled to include volume controls.
Microsoft indicated that it would migrate an enterprise technology, called Windows Defender Exploit Guard, to assist Windows 10 block “suspicious behaviors”-but didn’t. We were eagerly anticipating a Smart Updater or Update AI feature to help get rid of the pain of unexpected Windows updates, but it appears to have been pulled. The Timeline feature was designed to include phones; it doesn’t.
Microsoft now shifts gears to the next feature update to Windows 10, with a new nomenclature: “19H1,” referring to the first-half update for 2019. (Microsoft’s Xbox team has begin to use that terminology with Xbox Insiders.) Expect to see the fruits of those labors around April, the same timeframe because the earlier April 2018 Update.
There’s an absolute feel that Windows 10 development is slowing, and some believe that they know why: a re-spin of Windows, referred to as Core OS. We recently received our best hint that Core OS (or WCOS) is real: the announcement of a completely new Windows “experience” inside the Surface Hub 2, and perhaps other devices, in 2020. A major future debut of the revamped Windows would justify what today is a rather ho-hum release.