WARNING – 8 October 2018: Following the initial rollout of the Windows October 2018 Update, some users have reported issues with a bug causing them to lose their files. Microsoft has advised users to avoid installing the latest update until a fix is released.
Read more about the Windows 10 update issues.
6 September 2018: As any hardened Windows 10 user will know, a major update can be a source of serious tension, as your computer restarts and updates for several minutes and you wonder what new features have been added, and whether anything you rely upon will no longer work properly. In this guide, we take you through the most recent major updates and what to expect from the next big set of changes.
Microsoft is constantly applying updates to Windows 10 to eliminate bugs and improve security, but it’s the twice-yearly ‘feature’ updates that often bring the most changes. Currently in the pipeline are two major updates, one from April 2018 and one due to launch in October. Below we’ll explain the new features, and also run you through how you can put off updating if you want to.
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Windows 10 October Update features
Microsoft has just announced its next major update will start rolling out to computers in October 2018. The company didn’t provide many details as to what features would actually make it into this update, but you can make some fairly safe bets on a few of the features, since Microsoft trials big feature updates on a small subset of volunteers before adding them to the Windows 10.
If you use multiple computers in your daily life, this feature might interest you. Anything you select and copy will also be uploaded to a cloud service, allowing you to paste it on any other computer you’re logged in on. This is useful for moving small files or blocks of text instead of having to email them to yourself.
Even better, you’ll now be able to see a timeline of all the things you’ve copied. This means you can copy multiple things and still have access to them. Currently you can only ever have one copied item on the clipboard at the same time.
Sets is best thought about as a good way to manage tasks and projects. Instead of having a load of tabs open in a browser and some documents open in Word and Excel, instead you can group related documents and webpages together into ‘Sets’. For example, if you’re working on a photo album as a gift, you could have one window with multiple tabs that group your pictures, the captions you’ve written and the website you’re using to create the album all in one window, in different tabs. This grouping is known as a Set and should let you organise your common tasks in a more logical manner. This works in conjunction with Timeline, that was introduced in April (see below).
It’s the app that’s probably changed the least in the past decade, but Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about trusty Notepad. In the next update, this application will receive some new functions including the ability to zoom in on text (making it easier for those with sight problems to see what they’ve been writing) as well as improved find-replace, making it easier to make bulk changes in one fell swoop.
It sounds like an action movie, but really it’s just a less eye-searing version of the File Explorer you’re already familiar with. Instead of white, you can now set it to be black, making it less harsh on the eyes, especially at night.
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Windows 10 April Update features
These are the features that arrived with the Windows 10 April 2018 update. Many computers are yet to receive this update, so if you haven’t seen big changes to your computer recently, this is what to expect first.
The biggest change coming to Windows 10 is Timeline. While previously you would navigate through your tasks by opening files, webpages and programs, you can now also do so by scrolling back in time.
It’s another way of allowing you to see things you’ve recently been working on, be it a webpage you were reading yesterday or several weeks ago. If you scroll back far enough, you’ll be able to find it.
The feature will be of limited use to most people because it currently requires you to be using Microsoft-made programs such as the Edge web browser and Microsoft Office. The only way other programs will appear in Timeline is if the company that makes them chooses to add this feature, which takes time and effort.
A new design standard is coming to Windows 10 that includes more effects when your mouse cursor hovers over buttons, more translucent (as opposed to opaque) programs and easier-to-use menus.
Improved eye tracking
The ability to control Windows 10 with your eyes (using hardware such as eye trackers made by Tobii) was added late last year in the Fall Creators Update. The Spring Creators Update will add extra features, including easier scrolling and navigation as well as the ability to pause eye tracking more easily.
Connecting wireless Bluetooth devices such as mice and headphones to Windows 10 machines should now be a lot quicker. Instead of having to manually connect each time, certain devices will be connected automatically.
Windows 10 S mode
You’ll now be able to activate and deactivate Windows’ so-called ‘S Mode’, which locks down the operating system so it can only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store, and Microsoft Edge is the only web browser you can use. This is great for users who want a more simple experience, and for those who want to control what their children can access on their computer.
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Can I stop Windows 10 updates?
When an update first launches, it’s distributed to a relatively small number of computers that, in theory, have been tested for compatibility with the latest software. Indeed, Microsoft says it ‘test[s] each major Windows 10 feature update with our OEM hardware partners prior to general availability to ensure the best experience on all compatible devices.’
Over the course of several months, more and more computers receive the update, supposedly when Microsoft is confident that your PC is fully compatible. By way of example, the ‘Fall Creators Update’ that launched last autumn is only just arriving on some computers.
Once your PC receives the update, you won’t be able to stop it there and then, but if it causes problems with any of your programs or settings, you can ‘roll back’ to the previous version of Windows 10 for up to 15 days after it’s installed.
If you’re within the time limit, you search for ‘settings’ in the Start Menu, open the Settings app and navigate to the Recovery menu. Within this menu there will be an option that says ‘Go back to the previous version of Windows 10’. Click on that and follow the instructions.
This won’t permanently prevent your computer from updating to the Spring Creators update, but should hopefully give you enough time to see whether the programs you’re having problems with can be fixed ahead of the next update.
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