At its Surface event on Oct. 2, Microsoft announced that its latest Windows 10 update would be available immediately. Microsoft hasn’t put as much of a push behind publicizing the features baked into the latest update as it has in previous cycles, so what, exactly, is under the hood for Redstone 5?
Quite a few things, it turns out, though most of them fall under the category of minor improvements. There’s a new dark theme for Explorer if Dark Mode is enabled (shown below), live folders can be renamed in Start, and a new “Safe removal” feature will tell you if any current applications are running on an external GPU. Yanking an external GPU while it’s actually running an application is generally a bad idea — best case, the app crashes. Worst case, the entire system crashes. Notifications like this should help prevent this kind of problem.
There’s a new Windows screenshot tool (accessed via Win+Shift+S), and copied content can now be sent to a cloud-enhanced version of the Clipboard that syncs between devices and with the cloud (this functionality is accessed via Win+V). Wireless displays are now supported in three different modes (game, productivity, and video) and the Microsoft Game Bar has supposedly been redesigned with new features that will offer additional performance information. There’s little word on actual performance enhancements, but this isn’t all that surprising — Windows 10’s game performance has already been optimized and if there was much in the way of low-hanging fruit to clear out of the way, Microsoft would have incorporated it as a general feature of the OS rather than a mode attached to the company’s Game Bar capability.
Storage Sense can now move files into online-only mode if they haven’t been accessed locally, saving space; pen users can ink directly into text boxes; and here’s an interesting tidbit: “Users can now view the real world when using Windows Mixed Reality using a headsets built-in camera.” Granted, Mixed Reality headsets haven’t set the sales world on fire, but that kind of integrated camera functionality could make VR headsets easier to use one day. At the very least, it might lead to fewer stepped-on cats.
Another welcome change, if it works? Windows Update is now supposed to use machine learning to determine when to install or not-install updates. We’ll see how effective this actually is; I haven’t been enamored with Microsoft’s previous efforts to determine when rebooting a machine is a good idea or not.
Windows Central has a full writeup on these improvements and others, including various minor enhancements to Edge (the “Show in Folder option” has finally been added to the browser’s download tab). When a tab is playing volume, it’ll now light up when you hover over it — and tabs can be preemptively muted before they start playing audio from a context menu.
Collectively, there don’t seem to be many killer features in this update. But there are a lot of small, quality-of-life improvements across various applications and capabilities. Find/Replace in Notepad, for example, now supports wrap-around functionality, a feature the app has literally never had before. Unfortunately, you can also now “Search with Bing!” in Notepad, a feature I’m fairly certain nobody who uses Notepad in the Year of Lord 2018 has ever requested.
Ah well. Nothing’s perfect.
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