Now that Windows has shifted to two incremental releases each year, rather than the large, monolithic updates that used to fall every few years, we can get our hands on new features faster than ever before. The new release, imaginatively dubbed the April 2018 Update, just snuck into April and has lots of new features but there are also some things disappearing. Here’s our look at what’s in and what’s out.
After being pushed back from the previous release of Windows 10, Timeline gets officially unveiled.
Timeline provides a visual history, from your PC and synched devices of things you’ve been working on. When you open the Task View, either by using the Win-Tab keyboard command or clicking on the button on the Task Bar, you can scroll though documents, browser windows, applications and other things you’ve been working on. Then you can choose what you want to go back to and pick up from where you left off.
Developers may need to update their applications to take advantage of Timeline as it uses standard Windows APIs to bring content in. Some applications don’t do this so what the show in Timeline is limited.
For example, if you prefer Chrome over Edge, you won’t see all your Chrome windows in Timeline.
This is similar to Apple’s AirDrop. Once enabled, when you right click on a file in Explorer, you’ll be able to see a list of nearby PCs you can send a file to.
Received files, once accepted, go to the Downloads folder.
The new feature depends on the PCs running build 1803 or higher and isn’t backwards compatible with previous releases of Windows 10.
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs, bridge the gap between web pages and proper applications. PWAs can send notifications even when their tabs are closed and do other application-like things even though they are an extension of web applications.
Although the technology isn’t new, their support in Windows 10 is.
If you’re anything like me, the constant “ding” and appearance of pop-ups while I’m working is a pain in the butt. Focus assist is an update on the previously released “Quiet hours” feature and lets you set times and apply other rules to when notifications appear and allow some applications, such as full-screen games, to suppress notifications entirely.
I particularly like the idea that I can set location-based rules about when I receive notifications or only get paged. when certain people try to contact me.
Cortana gets smarter at home
Part of the attraction of smart assistant software is the ability to use it to control things beyond your PC. Cortana can now control smart home devices from ecobee, Honeywell and Nest.
Along the bigger ticket items, Microsoft continues to refine things by cleaning up where to find settings, with the Settings app getting the Fluent design treatment.
And Edge is also getting the previously enterprise-only Windows Defender Application Guard which allows Edge to open an untrusted site in its own virtualised Hyper-V container so your computer is better protected from web-based threats.
See you later
As well as adding a refining a number of features, Microsoft is clearing out a few other bits and pieces. HomeGroup disappears, although any shared printers and folders will remain accessible.
The XPS viewer is now a separate install when setting Windows 10 up for the first time although it will still be there if you’d upgrading from an older version of Windows 10.
And, thankfully, the “Connect to suggested open hotspots” option completely disappears from Wi-Fi settings – it was previously disabled but now is totally gone. That was a security problem waiting to happen.