Microsoft’s been developing the latest big feature update to Windows 10 (we get 2 per year) for a while now. After much speculation and a couple of false starts, the latest major update to Windows 10 has now been confirmed for April 30th. International timezones means Australians should be among the first in the world to receive the new features.
If you’re one of the millions of Windows Insiders, like me, you’ve already been running the latest features for a while in preview builds of the release (codename Redstone 4), so you’re already familiar with the changes. The biggest change for me personally is stability in Edge, its getting extremely close to being a Chrome replacement, although there is still work to be done.
So what’s in this update? There’s a lot of refinements and a few major feature additions.
The proliferation of devices, combined with the explosion of information, has led to an influx of screen time. In fact, today, practically all free time goes toward screens. Your information is spread across multiple devices – making it increasingly harder to find your stuff. We’ve all had the experience of digging through your email or file folders for the document you know you wrote, but can’t find. Or looking for photos and videos that you know you’ve seen and love, but can no longer locate. Timeline can help you get back this wasted time.
With Timeline, your Windows 10 PC lets you go back in time up to 30 days to find your stuff, whether you were working on it earlier today, last week, or a few weeks ago. Because much of our activity is on the go, you can even pick up what you were doing if signed into your Microsoft account while using Microsoft Edge or Office 365 on your iOS or Android device when you return to your Windows 10 PC. Imagine looking at bathroom vanity options for that home remodel when you’re out and about on your phone, and then finishing that purchase when you’re back at your PC. Or working on a document on the bus during your commute and seamlessly picking it back up when you’re at your desk.
Today, most of us spend between 3-6 hours – each day – on screens. Much of this time is spent on social media, where the constant stream of distractions across our myriad of devices makes it hard to focus. In many ways, our attention is being hacked, pulling us into continuous scrolls of information, but distracting us from what matters most. This war on attention is real – in the workplace, the average amount of time people spend on any single event before being interrupted or switching tasks is about three minutes (outside of meetings). Since the average person needs about 23 minutes to regroup after being interrupted, we see our productivity and creativity diminished.
With the April 2018 Update we’re introducing Focus Assist to help you stay in the zone. Turn on Focus Assist whenever you want to get things done without distractions, like social media or other notifications. Or set it to turn on automatically at certain times during the day when you want focused time. When you finish, you receive a summary of what came through, whether notifications, emails or updates, while you were heads down. If you’re waiting on a specific call or email, choose people who you want to break through.
We’re also helping you focus while on the web with updates to Microsoft Edge. You can now click the audio icon to mute and unmute a tab that is playing sound. Books, PDFs and Reading View pages can go full-screen for a distraction-free reading experience. Shopping gets easier as your address, payment and other information can be securely saved with the option to autofill on web payment forms1. You can now clear out clutter from your printouts by printing web pages in a cleaner format with the new clutter-free printing option2. Finally, anyone needing a little help with reading can use the new Grammar Tools button to enable comprehension aids. Grammar Tools can break the words on the page into syllables, as well as highlight different parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives
Natural computing experiences enable us to speak directly to our devices to accomplish tasks, without typing. We see potential for voice input to dramatically change how people interact with their devices, far beyond novelty experiences or entertainment.
One way we’ve done this in the April 2018 Update is with Dictation. It’s now easier than ever to take a note or write a paper, with just your voice. With your cursor in any text field either in Windows 10 or in an app, simply press Win+H and start talking. The improved Dictation feature in Windows 10 will capture your thoughts quickly and accurately so that brilliant idea you just riffed on with your colleagues or the speech you’re practicing for your best friend’s wedding isn’t lost forever.
With the April 2018 Update and Cortana enabled on your Windows 10 PC, you can manage your smart home right from your PC using just your voice3. For example, want to come home to a warm house from a long day at work? Just tap Cortana on your PC and say “Hey Cortana, set the living room thermostat to 72 degrees” to control your ecobee, Honeywell, Nest Learning thermostat and more4.
Of course, there are many more great new features in the April 2018 Update including simplified IT management tools for our enterprise customers, new ways to create with Photos, 3D and Windows Mixed Reality, new ways to keep you safer online and enhancements to your PC gaming experience.