Windows 10 April Update Review

The Windows 10 April 2018 Update is finally here, after what felt like quite a wait. Under a rather lengthy development cycle, this new version of the operating system is more about little improvements and less about big changes. But that’s not a bad thing.

When it first appeared, Windows 10 introduced a ton of new features. These were improved upon with each successive update, so much so that some elements of the OS are now completely changed.

Yet, all have been part of Microsoft’s journey to make Windows better and better.

Development and Launch

In active development since August of last year, and codenamed Redstone 4, Microsoft officially began the public rollout of Windows 10 April 2018 Update on May 8.

Interestingly, if you have been following the development of the operating system, some things about this update may have stood out for. Most notably the fact that the company talked little about this version leading up to its release, and the lack of a formal launch.

If anything, Microsoft only seems to have settled on the name at the last minute.

Now, these may be signs of lackluster expectations from the software giant but that is nothing out of the ordinary. Windows 10 has been in need of polish in certain areas, more so than new bells and whistles. And this is where the April Update delivers.

Windows 10 April 2018 Update Review

I tested the Windows 10 April 2018 Update for a couple of months during the preview phase and installed it on my Dell laptop the day it became available. We’ve already covered all the big new features that are part of this version in a previous article.

Here is my detailed review of this newest iteration of the operating system.

The Making of April 2018 Update

Like most major updates for Windows 10, Microsoft started work on this one early. Though the release of April 2018 Update was delayed by almost a month, here is a timeline of how its development shaped up:

November 7, 2016

First signs that Microsoft was lining up a fourth update for Windows 10, codenamed Redstone 4.

August 31, 2017

Windows 10 build 16353 released for Skip Ahead Insiders, becoming the first Redstone 4 preview.

October 31, 2017

Insiders on the Fast ring got their hands on the first Redstone 4 preview, build 17017.

November 1, 2017

The First Redstone 4 preview version hit the Slow ring, as build 17025.

January 23, 2018

Microsoft announced that the Bug Bash for this version of the OS will kick off on February 2.

March 1, 2018

Microsoft shared details on what to expect from Redstone 4 for the Xbox One.

March 8, 2018

Rumors started flying that the next version of Windows 10 will be called the Spring Creators Update.

March 27, 2018

The update reached RTM status with build 17133, with rollout expected on April 10.

April 16, 2018

A blocking bug discovered at the last minute led to a delay, and a new release candidate, build 17134.

April 30, 2018

Microsoft announced the general availability of Redstone 4, now known as the April 2018 Update.

Appearance

I also thought that the new blur effect that has been added to the taskbar looked great. But that’s something that you’ll only notice when you are using the right wallpaper.

Another handy ability in this release is to jump straight to the settings area of a particular app by right-clicking it on the Start Menu. This certainly saves a lot of time, compared to the previous route of manually navigating in each application.

Settings - Windows 10 April 2018 Update Review

Nothing major in terms of UI changes in Version 1803, but solid improvements throughout.

Overall, Microsoft finally seems focused on refining the usage experience of Windows 10, and this is the first version of the OS that streamlines the user interface. Apple has mastered this art on macOS — and late as the Windows maker may be, it is following suit.

Verdict

Long overdue, this visual overhaul, and Microsoft seems to be paying attention. As a design language, Fluent Design is still evolving, but its implementation here helps bring some style and semblance to the operating system.

Timeline

Perhaps the biggest feature Microsoft is touting for the April Update is Timeline, certainly the only major new addition, is an innovative way for users to get more done. This marquee feature records what you do your devices, tracking your work form your both your smartphone and your computer.

It is basically, part of the pick up where you left off experience that Microsoft has been working on.

For example, I can work on a presentation on my laptop over the weekend, and resume designing it on another device on Wednesday. The websites I visited while working will also be there waiting for me, as long as I visited them using Edge.

And this is where things tail off a bit, in my opinion.

Timeline picks up activities from a number of locations, including Edge, apps and emails, Office programs and even good old Notepad. But it doesn’t record them from every applications, as developers will need to add support for this feature in their application.

Timeline - Windows 10 April Update Review

So, if you’re a Google Chrome or Open Office user, you’re out of luck for now.

Still, Microsoft has designed this feature with careful thought. It makes you feel like you are scrolling through time. The currently open applications are shown at the very top, and below them are the ones that were open in the past.

That also means the taskbar button that was previous reserved for Task View now opens up Timeline, revealing your recent computing activity over the past days and weeks.

Luckily, if you find this is feature is not for you, you can disable it completely.

And if you’re concerned about privacy, you can turn off the cloud sync and only have Timeline display activities for the past 4 days. Signing in with a Microsoft Account will show you the history of the past 30 days here, with each entry listed with a big visual thumbnail.

A search feature is also included, thankfully.

As genuinely useful an organizational tool Timeline is, it has meant that Virtual Desktops take a bit of a back seat now. They are still there but accessing them requires more mouse travel.

Depending on your productivity needs, this feature alone may be worth the upgrade to this new version of the operating system. It certainly is something that I now regularly use, and it’s a neat way to manage things if you own multiple devices.

Its true value will, obviously, depend on how invested you are in the Microsoft ecosystem. Office 365 users and owners of multiple devices will appreciate the productivity potential of the Timeline feature. Owners of Android and iOS devices will too, as Timeline now combines with Edge on these platforms.

I just hope other developers add support for it — particularly browser makers.

Verdict

Long overdue, this visual overhaul, and Microsoft seems to be paying attention. As a design language, Fluent Design is still evolving, but its implementation here helps bring some style and semblance to the operating system.

Edge

Each new update to Windows 10 brings with it a number of improvements to Microsoft Edge, and the April Update is no different. The trend continues here, and the browser is now a fair bit more stable, notably faster and definitely cleaner.

Plus, if you’re like me and use it to read books, then you’ll love the enhancements even more!

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

Edge eBook - Windows 10 April Update Review

First thing on the agenda is the user interface. Microsoft has updated the UI with Fluent Design effects including the blur that is the talk of the town. Which is to say your background wallpaper will now filter through the Edge title bar — more so when you click the arrow to show tab previews.

Small, yet sleek, improvement.

A bigger one is the redesigned Hub, which is no longer a small sidebar tucked away to the right. It is now a large panel that slides out, taking as much space as necessary, and provides handy access to all your Favorites, Reading Lists, Books, History and Downloads.

Edge Hub

Edge also continues to catch up with other browsers when it comes to features and abilities.

Additions like autofill, muting audio on tabs and clutter free printing options are nice. They’d have been nicer, had these features been available three years back when Windows 10 first launched, but at least Edge users finally have them.

Muting tabs is straightforward, however, I found that the feature that automatically fills out forms to be disappointing. Unlike rival browsers that catch up on the details as you type them, here I had to dig into the settings to manually fill out the fields.

Seriously?

Microsoft has made slight refinements to the reading experience on Edge too, and security improvements have also made their way to the browser. The former is a rather unique feature among browser, native support for EPUB files, and it’s no wonder Microsoft continues to improve it.

Edge Dark Theme - Windows 10 April Update Review

While the reading experience has not changed all that much, I found that taking notes was now much better, thanks to a unified menu for bookmarks and an index to quickly find the notes.

In terms of security, happy to report that the Windows Defender Application Guard feature has made its way to Windows 10 Pro — after previously being restricted to the enterprise versions of Windows.

Windows Defender Security Center

You will need to turn this on in Control Panel, but WDAG basically creates a super sandbox for your Edge browser whereby malicious code can’t spill over. If you are browsing the dark nooks and corners of the web, then it pays to do it with WDAG enabled.

So, are all these features enough for users of other browsers to take note of Edge? Not really.

Edge Dark Theme - Windows 10 April Update Review

Few would want to make the switch, as Microsoft Edge still has a long way to go before it can challenge for the title. New options are well and good, but the biggest letdown for me is the lack of extensions. As of this writing the Microsoft Store houses 99 extensions for the web browser.

While this is a small step up from the 70 or so addons that were available six months back when the Fall Creators Update launched, things are moving very slow. It has become crystal clear that Edge will never catch up to the competition when it comes to extensions.

And that means it will remain my third choice for the foreseeable future — behind Firefox and Chrome.

Verdict

Like most people, you’ll probably fire up Edge at least once to take a look at its new additions. Like most people, you’ll probably stick with your current web browser. Microsoft has a long way to go in making its browser a contender. It’s improved, but a lot more work is needed.

Progressive Web Apps

One thing where Edge has caught up with other web browsers, though, is in support for Progressive Web Apps. Basically, PWAs are applications that run in the browser but behave like native programs, without needing you to be connected to the Internet.

Progressive Web Apps - Windows 10 April Update Review

Microsoft, and several other companies like Google, see them as a big deal.

For the future, that is.

The Microsoft Store is now hosting them alongside UWP applications, though they are lumped together with other apps. A separate section would actually be a good idea to increase their visibility. That said, the selection that is available right now is pretty barebones and most are web wrappers.

Only the new Twitter app is worth its salt.

Verdict

Although there is substantial hype behind these new types of applications, Progressive Web Apps are really something for the future. But at least, Microsoft is well prepared for this, adding in support for PWAs in Windows 10 with the April 2018 Update.

Cortana

Oh, Cortana! Microsoft’s digital assistant may be a core part of the Windows experience, but it’s not in a good place in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. She is not. The company has made wholesale changes to how the voice assistant functions in this version — changes that users may not be pleased with.

Cortana Activate

I must admit, I’ve not used Cortana as much as I would have liked to.

But even I was taken aback when I first fired her up.

Notifications that were once assigned to Cortana have now migrated to the Action Center. The Cortana Home experience that many saw as an integral part of Windows Search is nowhere to be seen, with no replacement in sight, at that.

Cortana - Windows 10 April Update Review

If anything, the only significant tweak the company has made to the service is to its interface. Cortana got a new UI for its Notebook, which in previous versions of Windows 10 was organized by a number of sections like Lists, Reminders, Connected Services, Music, so on and so forth.

While that was daunting, this new interface is much simpler.

Clicking on the Notebook icon showed me two tabs, Organizer and Manage Skills. The first one let me create lists and set reminders, while the second one was where I found the ability to extend the functionality of the digital assistant by adding skills.

Cortana Notebook Organizer

These skills are no different than what the competition offers. They let you control your home and appliances, allow Cortana to track your fitness and enables her to connect with streaming services like Spotify and more.

Adding in these skills is a lot easier now. The digital assistant prompts you with a set of questions to get you started, allowing people of all skill levels to effortlessly set things up.

Cortana Notebook Skills

Sadly, yet understandably, most of these new skills are only available in the US version of Cortana. In time they will be rolled out to all markets and regions, but Microsoft has done nothing to show its commitment to anyone outside the United States with this.

Taken all in, Cortana is not in the best position in the April 2018 Update. It’s ongoing a transition, as Microsoft rethinks its voice assistant service and goes with a more chat-based approach like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

That means the removal of the Home user interface of Cortana makes for a jarring experience, with the digital assistant showing up in multiple locations in Windows 10.

That also means that if you’re not a fan of Cortana, you probably will not be anytime soon.

Verdict

Hard as it is to believe, Cortana seems to have regressed in this version of Windows. It’s more streamlined, yet all over the place. It’s got more tricks, yet most are reserved for US users. If you have been a heavy user of Microsoft’s digital assistant, brace for a couple of rude surprises.

Focus Assist

It says a lot when one of the biggest new features you talk about in a major Windows update is a small one like Focus Assist. But that’s what Microsoft has been highlighting, and to their credit it signifies that the main idea behind this version of the OS is refinement.

And that’s exactly what this new feature is all about.

If you want to call it that.

That’s because this is a redo of the Quiet Hours function in Windows 10. Microsoft has redone that handy little feature, given it a new name, and baked in a bunch of new capabilities. No longer a tool for shushing away notifications for a period of time, Focus Assist is designed to help you keep on task.

For example, Focus Assist will come into play whenever you launch a game, to ensure no notification pops up during your gaming session. It will also be enabled when you are projecting your screen, while watching a movie or presenting something at the office.

Focus Assist - Windows 10  April 2018 Update Review

And when you are done, the feature will automatically turn off and show you a summary of all the things you may have missed.

Better yet, Microsoft even allows you to customize applications and people that can break through Focus Assist. Their notifications will be displayed no matter what. Pegging this to individual apps would have been excellent, though, like having Focus Assist turn on when opening up Word.

But perhaps that is for a future update.

I like the ability to have Focus Assist automatically be enabled when I reach home, though. Often times I bring my work laptop home with me, and Focus Assist turns on itself when I do, saving me from the bombardment of work related notifications and all that scary stuff. Excellent.

That said, while Microsoft has been able to stop notifications on the desktop, it has not been able to stop the same alerts popping up on mobile. With Cortana serving as the bridge between the two worlds, there is a chance that Focus Assist will be integrated on Android devices, at least, if not iOS.

Something like this is the case with another feature, Near Share.

Verdict

Another neatly designed and well put together feature, Focus Assist is something most users will appreciate. Particularly those that have the need to buckle down and do without distractions for a while. Managing notifications has never been better.

Near Share

Another shiny new ability in Windows 10 is a feature that lets you beam files directly from compatible clients. If you’re thinking this is a copy of the Apple AirDrop feature, then you’re not wrong. It’s a pretty obvious replication — but one that I believe can come in really handy for users.

What this is, is basically an easy way to move a file or two from a desktop to a laptop. Or, after a recent announcement, from a PC to phone. That’s because Microsoft just confirmed, a few days back, that the Near Share feature will be coming to Android and iOS mobile devices.

Very welcome, this, as the real frustration is quickly getting a file from a computer to a smartphone.

How this works is that you need to have Bluetooth enabled, and then click the Nearby sharing quick action tile in the Action Center. Now when you click on the Share button in an app for example, you will see a list of all devices nearby that you can share your file with.

Near Share - Windows 10  April 2018 Update Review

Near Share works with all applications that have the Share feature built in, like Photos and File Explorer. Performance when transferring small files was respectable, things moved quick. But expectedly, I experienced some slowdowns when moving large files via Near Share.

Anyway, now with Android and iOS support officially confirmed, this feature just got a lot more useful.

Verdict

Not an original addition by any stretch of the imagination, but a really useful one, nevertheless. Near Share allows you to beam files directly to compatible devices, whether that be another PC or a phone. Marvelous!

Gaming

A bit surprising, but there is disturbing lack of focus on gaming in April Update. Which is surprising, as there are a lot of things Microsoft can do to improve the experience on Windows 10 and bring it closer together to Xbox.

The previous few versions of the operating system did a fair bit in this regard.

This time around, there’s nothing much to write home about.

Yes, there is the redesigned Game Bar, which I guess looks rather nice. The Gaming section in the Settings app is as useful as ever, though one can’t help but feel it could have done with some more additions for gamers here.

Game Bar - Windows 10  April 2018 Update Review

But Microsoft did say that are some gaming improvement under the hood. We’ll just have to take their word on this, and hope that the company is planning something big for the next version of the operating system.

Gaming is an important part of the Windows 10 puzzle, after all.

Verdict

A bit surprising seeing the lack of focus on gaming in the April 2018 Update. There are minor touchups here and there, as well as some enhancements for SteamVR, but by and large, gaming took a backseat this time around.

Privacy

Almost all new updates to Windows 10 have amped up the privacy aspect, and Version 1803 is no different. You not only have better control over app permissions in the April Update, you can also decide which applications can gain access to your complete file system or specific folders.

Like Documents, Pictures and Videos.

The Settings app allows you to fine tune these permissions.

Apps Access

I also like the fact that users can now completely turn off access to the camera on their PC. Earlier versions of the operating system blocked access to the camera for Windows applications, but now this blockade also extends to the desktop program.

If you’re doing something, better do it right, I always say.

However, one thing that does not have that much of an impact is the new Diagnostic Data Viewer app.

Diagnostic Data Viewer - Windows 10  April 2018 Update Review

This is an application that debuted with this version of Windows 10, allowing users fully transparent access to the diagnostic data that is collected from their computers. It shows how it’s used and provides them with increased control over information that is transmitted.

Yet, is not bundled with the operating system.

I had to download it from the Microsoft Store after enabling the option in Settings. Turning it on does require some serious disk space, up to 1GB, which is used to collect and store this information.

But while this great as an idea — a tool that allows you to easily see and control the diagnostic telemetry data Microsoft gathers from your device — the implementation completely falls flat on its face. And that has got to do with the complexity.

The tool is something only a programmer or technical expert will understand. And even they will have trouble wrapping their heads around the information that is displayed. If you were thinking about seeing easy to understand information about the collected data, then prepare to be disappointed.

You will not be able to make sense of it.

The Diagnostic Data Viewer app is completely inadequate for its intended purpose. It does nothing to help users comprehend what is being gathered, where it is being sent, no way to pick and choose what kind of data is transmitted.

Surprising, because the company already has a Privacy dashboard on the web that does a good job of letting users view their stored information, Cortana details, along with their browsing and search history. That panel is designed well, with clear hints on how to manage and delete the information.

The Diagnostic Data Viewer tool is nothing like that.

Of course, the only way to completely stop all data being sent to Microsoft servers is to use the Enterprise Edition of Windows 10. All other users are out of luck.

Verdict

While there are welcome improvements to privacy in Windows 10 April Update, the Diagnostic Data Viewer app is utterly useless for most folks. Makes one wonder how a complex application like this made its way out.

Updates

One side of Windows that could always use improvements is the Update mechanism, making downloads lighter and faster. Windows 10 April 2018 Update continues on with the good work Microsoft has been doing to streamline updates for its OS.

The frustration over the lack of control over updates still remains, and I don’t like how Microsoft gives us little to no choice about the huge amounts of data that is download, the untimely restarts at the most inconvenient of times.

Windows Update - Windows 10  April 2018 Update Review

So, while things haven’t improved as much as I’d like, there are steps in the right direction.

Including throwbacks to Windows 7, like how Windows Update now shows an icon in the System Tray when an update is pending installation. This does a good job of alerting users you that a restart will be required soon so they can get things ready.

Restart Reminder Updating Windows 10

Nothing beats manually deploying updates like in the days of yore, but this is the next best thing.

Improvements are also in store for when installing major updates.

Microsoft has also done a fair bit of work behind the scenes to make updates install a lot faster once your device reboots. The company claims that most modern PCs will be out of action for only 20 minutes, rather than an hour it used to take.

And that is because more of the installation now takes place in the background, while the operating system is still up and running. The interruptions only last minutes now, instead of hours, due to this, and you are back at the desktop as soon as possible.

Finally, the Update & Security panel in Settings is a bit more polished and houses all these new options that makes making changes a breeze.

Two thumbs up from me!

Verdict

In a sign that the company is aware of the frustrations users faced with the wait for installing updates and devices restarting at unpredictable times, the latest version of Windows 10 comes with a couple of welcome improvements. Complete control would be great, but this is still good.

Other Improvements

So, now that we have a pretty good idea of the big new additions to the platform, it is now time to make some brief stops and see what other kind of improvements have made it to the operating system with the April 2018 Update.

If we’re talking about these smaller enhancements, there are tons of these scattered around.

Starting with a few minor updates to the My People feature that now allows you to pin up to 10 contacts to the taskbar. Frankly, that’s a bit of an overkill for me, as 3 are more than enough. Surprisingly, what is still not possible, is the ability to add a contact by dragging it from the People app.

My People Feature in Windows 10 April Update

Come on, Microsoft!

At least, I can now send a file to my contact on the taskbar by dragging a file. Similarly, changing the order of contacts on is also possible now by dragging them around.

I also liked the new dictation mode that pops up a dictation window, which allows me to talk directly into the applications instead of typing. This can be brought up by pressing the Winkey + H combination.

Dictation - WIndows 10 April 2018 Update Review

Well, as long as I am running the US English version of the operating system.

Of course, voice control is one thing, typing up long sentences is another. Not everyone will find this feature useful, particularly those in noisy environments with other people. But it’s here for when you need it, and I found voice recognition to be solid.

In terms of wireless enhancements, we have another addition, the Quick Pair feature. This basically means that whenever a Bluetooth device in pairing mode comes within range of your PC, Windows will display a notification to pair with it.

Cutting off the usual steps of heading to Bluetooth settings and saving time.

I have not been able to test it, though, as manufacturers still have to add support for it in their devices.

Windows 10 has also picked up a fix for times when desktop programs appear blurry when the display settings are changed. The operating system comes with the Fix scaling or apps option that can be toggled on from the Settings panel.

Fix Blurry Apps -WIndows 10 April 2018 Update Review

Speaking of displays, if you are one of the lucky few that own an HDR enabled Windows 10 device, then you will appreciate the support for more device, as well as the simplicity on offer in the April Update for playback of High Dynamic Range video content.

HDR Video Playback Support in WIndows 10 April Update

Some data usage management improvements are also part of the package.

An updated Data usage setting offers a much more comprehensive look at how much data you have used over the past 30 days, including how much for each app, and set background and foreground limits if you have a metered or low bandwidth connection.

Data Usage

Inexplicably, the feature refused to show data usage for Internet via an ethernet cable, which is an odd omission when you think about it.

Another great new addition in this version is the ability to set audio preferences per application. You can define the input and output audio devices for each application, meaning your speakers could be blasting out sound from Spotify, while your browser directs audio to your headset.

App Volume

Touch users are not left out this time around.

Windows 10 comes with subtle improvements for tablet and touchscreen enabled devices.,

And though there is no defining new feature, the most notable enhancements are reserved for the touch keyboard in the OS, which now not only looks better but also works a bit better too. A major highlight is support for word recognition via swiping, similar to what is the norm on mobile devices.

Touch Keyboard Enhancement in Windows 10 April 2018 Update

In fact, the operating system can now also offer text suggestions and automatically correct the words you type — as long as the language is set to US.

Text Suggestions Autocorrect Feature in Windows 10 April Update

Continuing the drive to port the Control Panel to the Settings app, Windows 10 now displays the fonts in the new panel. Clicking on a font takes you to a section where you can view that fonts, its different faces, the associated metadata as well as other details.

Fonts in Windows 10 April Update

It is also possible to enter your own text to preview the font and see how it looks.

And oh, if you’re into the whole Mixed Reality deal, a range of new features have been added to the platform as well. Starting with the shiny new virtual environment for you to wander around. If the ocean view of the Cliff House was not your jam, then you can now take your virtual self to Skyloft.

Skyloft Environment

It’s a posh penthouse apartment, that lets you enjoy the impressive cityscape.

That’s all well and good, but I also like the other small changes the April Update brought on the SteamVR front. These games now benefit from the introduction of haptic feedback, while general performance levels have also been upped a bit.

Microsoft also says that they tuned things to consume significantly lower amount of video RAM, as well as improve video performance in apps. Combine these with the fact that it is now much easier to take screenshots in Mixed Reality applications, and you have a neat set of improvements for the platform.

They make it just that bit more competitive against the likes of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

And finally, to top things off, the Mixed Reality Viewer app now does a great job of showcasing the impressive 3D models that are available on the Remix 3D website. Thanks to the integration, you can easily download the various models directly, and then view them right from within.

Mixed Reality Viewer Added in April Update

A handy, fun little addition.

Microsoft is a long way from making these 3D models the new norm. But like its virtual reality efforts, every little improvement counts at this stage. Good stuff here on this front.

Enterprise Features

It also has a fair bit to look forward to in the April Update. While there are no blockbuster changes in Version 1803, there are plenty of minor improvements for system administrators. Here’s a quick rundown of what business users have in store for them:

  • As mentioned above, the Windows Defender Application Guard feature has now made its way from Windows 10 Enterprise Edition to Windows 10 Professional. It also comes with a welcome new security option that lets you download files inside Edge, rather than directly on the operating system.
  • Administrators have also been given the power to configure enterprise PCs to run custom scripts during feature updates, making configurations and deployments markedly easier.
  • The Delivery Optimization feature for deploying the OS on enterprise networks now comes with monitoring ability using Windows Analytics, allowing IT admins to track how many devices have been enabled by it, and how much bandwidth they have saved.
  • check-square-o
    A few new policies in Group Policy and Mobile Device Management let administrators throttle bandwidth depending on the time of the day, among other things.
  • check-square-o
    Windows AutoPilot now allows IT departments to ensure that policies, settings and apps are provisioned on devices before users start using them.
  • check-square-o
    There are a whole bunch of improvements to the Windows Subsystem for Linux in this version, starting with the fact that the new Unix sockets report is now available. Linux applications can also run in the background, and these apps also get access to serial devices. Utilities for downloading and extracting .tar archives are now built directly into Windows.
  • check-square-o
    Windows 10 Pro for Workstations version of the operating system also got a few tweaks. It now no longer ships with consumer apps and games like Candy Crush, but instead will feature business focused apps. It also has a new power scheme called Ultimate Performance, which extracts every ounce of power from a desktop PC by reducing micro latencies.

Microsoft has detailed many of these enterprise features in a blog post, and just like the consumer versions of Windows 10 these new additions primarily aim to streamline the experience not exactly add to it. Then again, this has been the theme of this spring release.

What lies beyond?

The pattern is clear. This version of Windows 10 is more focused on laying the groundwork for future improvements while enhancing the current features of the operating system. The sprinkling of small new enhancements, welcome as they are, simply point at bigger things to come.

And bigger things are coming!

Microsoft demoed several exciting new features and productivity enhancements at BUILD 2018.

The premier company event provided us with early glimpses at all the new additions that are set for launch with Redstone 5, the next major version of the OS. That one is due out by the end of the year. And is all set to take things from where Redstone 4 left them.

For example, Sets, one of the more anticipated feature, finally brings native tab support to Windows 10.

And this is now tied into the Timeline, in that you will be able to pull up entire Sets from weeks ago and pick up where you left off your entire workflow. Browser tabs will now also be displayed in Sets, hopefully with an option to turn it off as that can get quite cluttered.

Progressive Web Apps are also getting amped up in the near future, with Microsoft confirming that it will add two new display modes for PWAs — full screen and minimal UI. The former removes the back button and app browser navigation controls, while the latter does the opposite.

Better yet, you will be able to download these apps directly from within the Edge web browser.

Yes, any PWA that is out there on the web, including Gmail that Google has made available. This is sure to bring a lot of new applications to Windows 10, at a time when it needs them the most. Nice to see Microsoft taking the lead and continuing to invest in Progressive Web Apps at this early a stage.

The company is also investing in Cortana.

As we have seen, Cortana is in a transition stage at the moment, but good things are coming.

Not only will the digital assistant now move to the Action Center, and become a truly understated presence, it will also play nice with others. Microsoft had actually announced the integration between Cortana and Amazon Alexa last year, but it showed it off at BUILD 2018.

Basically, Cortana can be accessed from within Alexa, while a Windows 10 PC can also connect with the Amazon voice assistant natively. And since each assistant is better at different things, this team up only means better things for users.

But my favorite new additions are for those that are coming to Fluent Design.

It’s easy to forget, but Microsoft’s design language is all about one design system that works across devices, 2D and 3D. The fancy blur effects and reveal highlights are just one side of the story — there’s a lot more to this design philosophy.

And the company did a good job showing these upcoming improvements to its design scheme.

These include a command bar flyout that will show you inline tools and options for what you are working on, as well as a new way of managing colors in apps where instead of managing each control color separately, developers will be able to make their color management choices.

A new Acrylic feature called transient UI is also on the horizon, which will bring a layer of transparency to popup menus. Some navigation changes are in store too.

However, the biggest and most important change is with different sizing.

The Universal Windows Platform has so far been all about apps designed with touchscreen in mind, with a touch interface that offers larger controls. This, as you can see, makes things clunky for keyboard and mouse users.

But that’s all about to change soon.

Windows 10 apps will now have a choice between standard and compact views and will adapt based on the input and device that they are being used on. In other words, they will

All these changes are looking set to arrive with the next version of the operating system.

All these changes had their groundwork laid in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update.

Conclusion

You may have noticed that Windows 10 April 2018 Update is mostly focused on improvements to current features rather than notable new additions. In that respect, it feels more like a service pack rather than a true update — a collection of improvements, so to say.

And while I appreciate all the little changes, amid the few big enhancements, this is a version that seems like the least important iteration of the operating system to date.

With dozens of new features, you are bound to find a couple that you will be using regularly. Whether that’s Timeline or Nearby Share, Focus Assist or any of the Microsoft Edge improvements. Yet, while this this focus on refinements makes for a more well-rounded release, it doesn’t make this update great.

The real star this year may well be the upcoming Redstone 5, which looks set to steal the show.

As Microsoft detailed at the recently concluded BUILD 2018 developer conference, that version is bringing along some major improvements to the user interface, as well as a number of anticipated new features like Sets, which is basically a powerful implementation of tabs.

Still, it’s a free update to an already very capable platform.

And you can’t complain, much.

Most users will be pleased with what it brings in terms of a stylish and more cohesive look, the productivity and connectivity improvements scattered throughout the operating system, as well as streamlined operations.

Nothing much to get excited about, yes.

But that’s coming a few months from now.

Pros

Cons

  • check
    Several small features and improvements
  • check
    Timeline is a very handy addition
  • check
    UI more stylish, consistent
  • check
    Deploying updates is now a more streamlined experience
  • check
    A more polished experience overall
  • No dramatic changes
  • Only minor improvements to Edge
  • Barely anything for gamers
  • Diagnostic Data Viewer app is a mess
  • Timeline only tracks Microsoft apps

4 thoughts on “Windows 10 April Update Review”

  1. I had the April Edition and it was a train wreck on my new computer, Blue screens, and Freezes to the point my wife said I have to roll it back but I could not because the update had eaten the rollback folder. I finally reinstalled the previous edition and now all I have to fight is the random Blue screens that Microsoft admitted they were having issues with fixing on some computers. I used to work for Microsoft and it is sad to say but since Windows 8 was released Microsoft keeps having problems with getting the bugs out of the software. Maybe time for some new code writing people. Linux keeps looking better and better. LOL

  2. It is ALWAYS waiting for the NEXT version, to Have a REAL WORKING Version from Microsoft.
    The last 2 destroyed most of my other licenses from Other vendors! Sic!

  3. I’ve been Testing Windows OS for a long time and changed also into the Windows Insider Program for Windows OS and I mean also Client & Server but also for Microsoft Mobile, Microsoft Surface Tablet and Xbox One S Media Console.
    For Windows 10 or as I preferred to call it, Windows X. I’m testing this already since day one, it came out as Beta. The problem is that in the early day’s I had my own device, where I could test this, since I moved to another country I did not bring my PC, so everything needed to be done also on the Laptop I’m using daily. For that, I recommended another or second device to do this.
    Especially when you are as me, Testing every Beta out, that Microsoft Releases. Because your daily system will be not running apps, what supposed to be running.
    So, I ended up, formatting my DELL XPS i5 Laptop HDD, and start all over again. Through the years I’ve found every 6 months, I need to reinstall everything, because the Applications I install and work with are big and need a lot of power, like; Corel Suite, Video Editing, Music editing programs and Photo Editing programs.
    I’m an IT Professional and used to create 2 partitions, one for your Windows Boot OS, and one for your Data. So, when I need to re-install I don’t need to make a Backup, what I usually do from my D: Drive every week. Than everything from my C: Drive can be Formatted and re-installed. For a 500 GB HDD I partition it in 300 Gb for my C: Drive and 200 Gb for my Data, that will be Backup weekly, and taken from there, only the files I need the most will be staying on that D: Data Partition.
    Through My Testing of Windows OS’s, and Applications and Games, I delete those test Applications and Games. Files needs to be Defragmented also regular on my C: Drive. Through my IT Experience, when I installed the New Windows on my Device, I do a Defragmentation first, before I install other Applications I use regular, and after the installation of those Applications, I defragment my C: Drive Partition again. This procedure and process I’ve learned myself, it became a discipline in Installing. There for Applications run smoother and better. But still with every upgrade it needs to be defragmented and doing this on your daily device is not that bad. It keeps your HDD healthy and you’re working on your device with comfort and ease.
    But That’s what I do, because through my experience through the years working in the IT, it became a must. Keeping my PC/Laptop/Tablet/Mobile/Xbox One S up to date with the latest updates, when they are released.
    Keeping your device Healthy and UpToDate is one of the most important things. And keeping your Data Separated from the Startup Drive where your Windows/Linux or other OS is running on, is a company thing to keep your Data Secure, but this needs to be implemented also in homes, to keep your Data Secure and available all the time for yourself. Encrypting your HDD is not a bad idea, to keep your Device secure for your eyes only.
    Through working like this I have not lot of issues on my device, than only when an Update occurs, some apps are not running as they should be, that’s why I still prefer Applications in total

  4. A really good reiew. Easy to understand and educative. I have a little favor to ask you. After the Spring update in Windows 10 my Dell support Asst. Crashed. Shall appreciate helpful suggestions and advise to get this App reinstalled in my laptop. I wasted 2 days trying to get the suooprt. Asst. installed. Many thanks and regards,

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