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What’s New in Windows 10?

The Windows operating system has been around for more than 30 years now. Version 1.0 of Windows was released in November of 1985 and has gone through numerous small and more significant revisions since then.

Windows 10, released in 2015, is the latest major version of Windows. Since the initial release of Windows 10, Microsoft has released a series of updates to fix bugs and add functionality. In recent years, Microsoft has released these Windows updates twice a year—in the spring (typically April) and fall (typically October).

What’s new in the latest update—and other recent updates? Read on to find out.

Anniversary Update (1607)

Microsoft released its first major Windows 10 update on the operating system’s first anniversary, in August 2016. This update included a lot of bug fixes and performance enhancements, including the following new features:

  • Dark mode, to display apps with a black background instead of the traditional white

  • New Skype app for video, audio, and text messaging

  • Windows Ink for drawing in select apps

Creators Update (1703)

The Creators Update was released eight months after the Anniversary Update, in April 2017. This release saw even more new features and changes to how a few things looked and worked. These changes included the following:

  • Changes to how Windows updates are delivered, so that you can opt not to receive some minor updates automatically

  • Game Mode to enhance game playback

  • New interface for the Windows Defender antimalware app

  • Paint 3D app for drawing three-dimensional shapes

  • Virtual reality functionality

Fall Creators Update (1709)

In October 2017, Microsoft released what it called the Fall Creators Update. This update added even more new functionality to the operating system, along with some important interface changes. These changes included the following:

  • The ability to pin individual websites to the taskbar

  • Controlled folder access in Windows Defender to guard against ransomware attacks

  • Fluent Design elements to improve the look of the operating system and apps

  • Integration with Android, iOS, and Windows phones and tablets to enable the sharing of data and messages between multiple devices

  • My People app to manage your favorite contacts directly from the Windows taskbar

  • OneDrive Files on Demand for working with files stored online

  • Story Remix in the Photos app to create “highlight reels” of your pictures and videos

  • Support for “mixed reality” headsets and apps

  • Removal of Windows Media Player app

April 2018 Update (1803)

The April 2018 (1803) update introduced only a few minor changes to Windows 10. The biggest change was the addition of Windows S Mode, which restricts Windows to run only Microsoft-approved Windows apps. Other changes included the following:

  • Changes to Action Center interface

  • Changes to Cortana interface and functionality

  • Fluent Design Acrylic effect for taskbar and desktop elements

  • New Game Bar for game play and screen capture

  • Nearby Sharing to share files via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi

  • Introduction of Windows S Mode that runs only Microsoft-approved apps

  • Removal of Homegroup networking

October 2018 Update (1809)

This update was Microsoft’s buggiest. It actually caused more problems than it solved, forcing Microsoft to halt the update for a few months until all the kinks were worked out.

New features were few and included the following:

  • New Snip & Sketch tool for taking and editing screenshots

  • New Your Phone app for integrating/syncing Android phones to the Windows desktop

  • Enhanced Clipboard and Windows search functionality

May 2019 Update (1903/19H1)

The 1903 update was the first to carry the alternative “half year” naming. (It came out in the first half—H1—of 2019.) It was a much more stable update than the previous one and included the following new or updated features:

  • New Light mode

  • Cortana separated from the core Windows search

  • Ability for users to pause scheduled updates for 35 days

  • Notifications hidden while in full-screen mode

November 2019 Update (1909/19H2)

Starting with this update, the second-half updates became minor updates, and major changes were scheduled for the first-half updates. Here’s what was in this one:

  • Improvements to notification management

  • Ability to create Calendar events from the taskbar

  • Minor functionality changes to the Start menu

  • Integrated OneDrive with File Explorer search

  • Windows Defender renamed as Microsoft Defender and treated as separate app

  • Game Bar renamed as Xbox Game Bar

  • My People app removed

May 2020 Update (2004/20H1)

Given that the 1909 changes were minimal, Microsoft scheduled more robust feature changes for the first update in 2020. Here’s what’s new in this latest Windows 10 update:

  • Updated designs for most app icons

  • Cortana separated into its own app and repositioned as a Microsoft 365 Assistant

  • Windows Search interface changes and improvements to File Explorer search

  • Reset This PC feature improved to feature cloud-based reset

  • Your Phone app updated to include making and receiving phone calls

  • Ability to name virtual desktops

  • Enhanced ability to turn off notifications

  • Improvements to Xbox Game Bar

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