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What to expect from the Windows 10 October Update

Over the years, Microsoft has gained a bit of a reputation for hardware breaking updates.

There has been a fair amount of talk stating that due to the new update earlier this year, people have experienced an increased number of crashes and Blue Screens of Death (BSoD) along with difficulty installing the updates, and a range of bugs.

Whether it is deserved or not, it is safe to say that 2020 has not only been a rough year for ourselves, but also for Microsoft who currently can’t seem to get a win.

Updates in the past have brought with them new layouts, UI’s, file shifts and many other new features that can be quite overwhelming and frustrating as it often throws a spanner in the works to our creature comforts and discomfort with change.

The idea of updates might seem like an intimidating prospect as it can be different from what we are familiar with.

However, Windows version 20h2 - aka their October 2020 update - is playing it safe, stating that the update would offer “a scoped set of features to improve performance and enhance quality” which is another fancy way of saying that there isn’t going to be a wide range of “new” features in this update but rather a focus on user experience.

It is also worth knowing that this update is absolutely voluntary. Meaning you will have to actively install the updates unless your current Windows 10 license has reached the end of its service.

The first obvious difference comes from Microsoft’s decision to change their naming convention of “yymm”. If Microsoft were to follow this formula, then it would give the impression that the update is from 10 years ago. This was already evident in their update from earlier this year in the 2004 version. The formula change means that there will be less confusion and hopefully people more willing to download as it will seem less suspicious.

Much like the update rollouts from last year, if your PC is already running to the most recent update (the 2004 version), the upgrade will simply take a few minutes and you’ll be back up and running. However, if you are trying to upgrade from any older versions, all previously released downloads since your last update will have to be installed first, and this can take anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes.

New Microsoft Edge as Default

Microsoft is also automatically including the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser with this version of Windows 10 instead of the legacy version.

However, you will only notice this if you are signing in with a new user account and are prompted to complete set up with Edge.

This is the first version of Windows 10 to do this automatically without having to actively seek out the latest version of Edge yourself.

Start Menu, Notification, and Taskbar Tweaks

Although there are no monumental differences in this update, Microsoft is very clearly focusing on improving the user experience. Making minor tweaks such as removing the solid colour used behind the icons in the menu, instead choosing to use a semi-transparent background much in the same way the web browsers show favicons to identify tabs.

In addition, if you are someone who favours the dark theme on all your windows settings, you can use the dark theme and choose an accent color that will show up behind the menu items.

Microsoft also promises a “cleaner, more personalised, out-of-box experience” making sure to follow the age-old rule of simpler is better. However, this will only be noticeable when creating new users.

You will also notice some simple changes that make it easier to dismiss notifications by simply clicking an ‘x’ in the top right corner of any notification box, further improving the user experience with convenience and ease.

Changes to settings

Continuing with priortising the user experience, the “About your PC” page will be able to

access utilities that were previously only available in the Control Panel.

What will be extremely useful is that from this page under the Device and Windows Specifications sections you will also be able to click a “copy” button that will capture all the information on these pages so you can easily share them with a support tech or the corporate help desk. With this in mind, we can expect future updates to do more of the same with the other pages and settings which will become extremely beneficial to the user experience.

You will also be able to decide the behaviours of the Alt+Tab task switcher. You can choose to show only the primary tab of each task (which is the current behaviour when using this command), the three/ five recently visited tabs or even all tabs. However, it must be noted that this will not affect the behaviour of the Timeline command (Windows key+Tab).

You can also change the refresh rate in your Advanced Display Settings page without the need for implementing third-party software.

Changes to Tablet Experience

Finally, you will also see some changes in your 2-in-1 devices. Traditionally, when you detached or rotated your device's keyboard you would receive a notification asking if you wished to switch to tablet mode; Instead, Windows will make the switch automatically, immediately making the adjustments to ensure the user-friendliness for the now mobile device, and vice versa.

That’s all we have right now, as we get closer to the October release we will look further into the build and what we can expect from this new update. For now, at least, it seems like 20H2 will be a far more modest update than anything previously released by Microsoft. It will be primarily focusing on the user experience as opposed to ambitious changes. But it is perhaps for this reason that it is a good omen and should have minimal issues In comparison to the update from earlier this year.

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