The Windows 10 October 2018 Update is here. Like all previous updates for the operating system, this one is new and shiny and comes with a whole array of new features.
It’s also different.
Different in how it was developed, and how it was released. A couple of prominent anticipated features like Sets and Alt + Tab previews for Edge were delayed during production, and are expected to make the cut in the next update. To top it off, Microsoft did not even test this version in the Release Preview ring of Windows Insider Program, releasing it as is.
Codenamed Redstone 5, and also known as Version 1809, this new update focuses more on refinements and improvements to the OS, rather than new additions outright. Productivity enhancements are numerous, and usability upgrades plenty. Like previous updates, this one continues to blur the line between work and life, education and business, offering something for the whole family.
Let’s take a look at all that is new in Windows 10 October 2018 Update.
Windows 10 October 2018 Update New Features
For a Windows 10 update focused on fixes and refinements, the October 2018 Update sure packs in a punch. Microsoft has made some improvements to all areas of the operating system. For example, Edge is now notably faster, the settings panel more refined, and the integration with other Microsoft apps more useful.
In between, the company has focused on improving the user experience throughout, making certain features more natural to use, others more streamlined. A select few ones also got handy new options.
The additions may not be blockbuster in nature, but there’s enough to like, as you’ll find out below:
Dark Theme for File Explorer
Let’s start with the immediate one first. The most notable, and perhaps the most requested, change is the dark theme for File Explorer that is now finally available. Microsoft calls this a dark mode for apps, and this is a systemwide change.
Also, while some may consider this a low altitude effort (mainly when you compared it to the dark theme on macOS), it’s hard to go back to the blinding white after a while. It’s not for everyone, but the design indeed is more comfortable on the eyes once you get used to it.
The Fluent Design train chugs along in the October 2018 Update, and Microsoft has applied this design philosophy in more nooks and crannies of its operating system. The Edge web browser, for example, picks up a new depth effect that better emphasizes the active tab.
Still, a long way to go towards a streamlined modern UI, but Fluent Design continues to evolve.
Your Phone App
Microsoft bills this as a marquee feature in this version of Windows 10, but its usability depends upon the smartphone you own and how you use it. Windows Phone users are out of luck, but owners of Android handsets gain instant access to their photos and texts on their PC.
iPhone users, on the other hand, can also link their device with their computer, which they can then use to sync their Internet usage with.
Your Phone is also coming to a previous version of Windows 10 since this is an independent application. At the end of the day, there are certain limitations with this new application, but if you want to use your PC to send and receive SMS messages or interact with the 25 most recent images in your gallery, there is much to like here.
Timeline for Phone
Another feature that mobile users will find handy. The April 2018 Update introduced Timeline on PCs, making it easier to gain access to what you were working on. Now, this feature is available on your phone, meaning you can scroll back in time to pick up where you left off while working on files and browsing websites.
It is also possible to share or remove activities from a specific day or hour.
If it’s wholesale improvements you seek, this is the place to look. Unlike other web browsers, Microsoft Edge is sadly not updated round the year. What this means is that every major update to Windows 10 brings with it a bucketful of improvements for the default browser.
So the October 2018 Update is no different.
There’s a lot to cover here, so buckle up your seatbelts.
The latest version of Edge focuses on improving reading, but also pays due attention to the look and feel of the user interface. Microsoft also offers a bit more customization — reading PDFs in the browser is now a more pleasant experience, and there are several changes under the hood to improve the technology.
For starters, Edge now comes with Microsoft Learning Tools baked in, and the browser also offers support for themes and an offline dictionary that serves up definitions of highlighted words.
You also get access to Grammar Tools that separate words into syllables and highlights parts of speech to make it easier to understand. It is also possible to have a word read aloud if you want to hear the correct pronunciation or learn its meaning.
On the PDF side of things, Edge now invokes the PDF toolbar when you hover at the top. Also new are options to add notes, while the toolbar itself can be pinned and unpinned for easy availability. A few rendering improvements have also made the cut.
Customization is a mantra that Edge has followed since the past few releases, and nowhere else is this more visible than in the menus. You can change up which icons show up in the toolbar. The UI itself has more of the Fluent Design look, while the browser now shows your top sites in the Jump List so you can visit them with a single click.
Technology enhancements are plenty in this release too, starting with the implementation of the Web Authentication API that allows the possibility of using Windows Hello on Microsoft Edge. You can also control whether the media plays automatically or not.
Plenty of other small improvements are part of the package here. So, if you have been waiting for the right time to give Edge a chance, then now is as good a time as any to start and see if this is the browser for you.
Microsoft continues to make search better on Windows 10, following up with the web previews that it added to the OS last year. Now, you are treated to an enhanced home screen that not only saves you time and keystrokes but also integrates with your emails and files on Outlook.com and OneDrive.
Previews are expanded to include applications, documents, email, people and more.
Search is now also available in the Calendar app for Windows 10 letting you find past or future events by searching for the name, location or people.
Given just how vibrant gaming is these days, it comes as no surprise that Microsoft is heavily focused on this side in Windows 10. There are a bunch of new additions in the October 2018 Update — one of which is sure to drive users to upgrade in droves.
The DXR technology.
DirectX Raytracing is now fully supported on the platform, meaning users no longer have to enable developer mode to see it in action. Raytracing is a new rendering technique that not only improves image quality but has all the potential to become the standard method for generating 3D worlds. In terms of hardware, NVIDIA is now selling its new GeForce 20 Series cards that offer real-time raytracing support, while some games have already implemented raytracing.
Of course, there are other improvements to PC gaming that the October 2018 Update brings about. The Game Bar is now a dedicated app, making it easier to use while also bringing a new look and new audio controls so you can do more with your games with fewer interruptions.
Windows Mixed Reality
Unsurprisingly, Windows Mixed Reality also picked up many goodies. A handy little feature is Flashlight, which lets you peer into your physical environment without removing your headset. This portal into the real world can be opened any time via the Start Menu, shortcut or voice command. Goes a long way towards maintaining immersion.
A bunch of other improvements are also lined up for users of Mixed Reality headsets, including Quick Actions that let you easily go Home, view the time or launch photos and video capture tools.
It is also possible to stream audio to both the headset and PC speakers simultaneously thanks to enhancements on the audio side. While on the video end, Windows no longer requires a physical monitor to be connected while running Mixed Reality.
Windows users have never had the best of luck when it comes to emojis. Not only did official support for emoticons took ages to arrive on the platform, but Windows still sadly does not come with flag emojis, as is the norm on other operating systems.
Regardless, a whole bunch of new emojis are available in the October 2018 Update, including those for superheroes and redheads. There’s also a softball in the mix, along with a pirate flag and a llama.
Microsoft also thankfully tweaked a few existing ones while it was at it.
It took its sweet time, but SwiftKey is here. This intelligent typing technology gives you more accurate predictions and precise autocorrections for the words that matter the most to you. Having found notable success on Android and iOS, this technology now powers the typing experience on Windows 10.
To sweeten the deal, Windows now also shows you insights regarding how AI has helped you type more efficiently, for each feature like autocompleted words, suggested, saved keystrokes, spelling corrections and swiped words.
Can’t ask for more productivity improvements. Or can you?
If you are a power user, copying and pasting content will be something that will be a norm for you through the day. Those of you that copy the same few things, again and again, are sure to appreciate this new clipboard experience that is now part of Windows 10.
Clipboard has been taken to the next level in this version of the operating system.
Not only can you copy multiple things at once, but you can also paste them around from the clipboard history and pin the most used items whenever and where you want. Unfortunately, only text content less than 100KB in size is supported right now, while images under 1MB can be sent to the cloud clipboard.
Better than nothing, eh?
Snip & Sketch
One prominent change that Microsoft has made in Windows 10 is Snip & Sketch, which is not only an app now but replaces the Screen Sketch feature that was previously part of Windows Ink Workspace. It makes a simple job of snipping pieces of the screen and creating a screenshot.
As part of transitioning to modern apps, the company is also set to retire the classic Snipping Tool, which now shows a message recommending users to try the Snip & Sketch application.
Renaming Start Tile Folders
Also added is the ability to name your tile folders in the Start Menu. Creating new folders is as simple as dragging a tile on top of another and releasing. Expanding the folder will show you a new option to rename it.
Pretty much all new versions of Windows 10 come with enhancements to accessibility, and the October 2018 Update continues the trend. Although the breadth of improvements here is not quite comparable to the previous update, there is still a lot to admire here.
Starting with the fact that it is now effortless to make everything bigger via a slider that adjusts text across the system, regular desktop programs and modern Windows 10 apps. It is done without having to change the overall scaling of your system and is something that users had been asking for a while.
A few Magnifier improvements are also in the house, so are a bunch of new options for the Narrator.
The first thing you’ll notice when you fire up Windows Defender Security Center is that it has been splashed with Fluent Design elements. Even the title bar of the app now uses the accent color you have enabled.
Also, that its name has been changed to Windows Security.
On the technical side of things, Windows Defender Firewall now allows for adding specific rules for a Windows Subsystem for Linux process, just like any Windows process. It should please developers that use it. In addition to that, antivirus programs are now required to run as a protected process. Security products that have not implemented this will run side by side.
There are some Windows Defender Application Guard improvements here, starting with a new user interface that allows standalone users to install and configure their settings without messing around with registry keys or group policies.
The October 2018 Update also comes with Windows Account Protection improvements that now does a better job of identifying the paired device that is being monitored for Dynamic Lock.