Re­views & Rat­ings

Your Phone, Edge, and the sur­pris­ingly su­per-pow­ered Clip­board high­light a mi­nor up­date.

PCWorld (USA) - - Contents - BY MARK HACH­MAN

Mi­crosoft’s Win­dows 10 Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date, of­fi­cially re­leased Oc­to­ber 2 ( go.pcworld.com/rlo2), doesn’t of­fer the stand­out, mar­quee fea­tures you might have come to ex­pect from ear­lier re­leases. But as our re­view demon­strates, a few new fea­tures high­light a longer list of un­der-the-hood, day-to-day im­prove­ments.

Our re­view is based on the fi­nal Win­dows 10 In­sider Builds, which led up to the of­fi­cial Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date. Mi­crosoft doesn’t ap­pear to have added any­thing with the an­nounce­ment, but we’ll check and up­date this story to re­flect any last-minute changes. (For now, though, the launch is of­fi­cially on hold—an un­de­ter­mined num­ber of users have suf­fered data loss from up­grad­ing right away [ go.pcworld.com/dtls], so Mi­crosoft has put the up­date on hold un­til it solves the

prob­lem. We didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence any is­sues with In­sider Builds, but as al­ways, back up your data.)

We’ve as­signed a re­view score, but, as al­ways, pay less at­ten­tion to the num­ber than to how the Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date will af­fect you. We’ve sep­a­rated what we’d call “the lit­tle things”—ev­ery­day fea­tures and con­ve­niences ( go. pcworld.com/dyim)— into their own ar­ti­cle, cov­er­ing au­to­mated Onedrive back­ups, for ex­am­ple, and in­de­pen­dent text re­siz­ing. Here, we’ll talk about the ma­jor new fea­tures: apps like Your Phone and Mi­crosoft Font Maker, and how the nifty lit­tle Cloud Clip­board works in the real world. One’s par­tic­u­larly worth not­ing: Mi­crosoft Edge.

MI­CROSOFT EDGE IS NOW AN EV­ERY­DAY BROWSER

Many ini­tially char­ac­ter­ized Edge in the same way they saw In­ter­net Ex­plorer: as a ve­hi­cle to down­load Chrome or Fire­fox, then ig­nore for­ever. And who can blame them? It’s been three years since Edge was first in­tro­duced, and it’s just now gained enough fea­tures and per­for­mance to be a vi­able com­peti­tor.

Mi­crosoft has long ar­gued that Edge en­ables longer bat­tery life than the com­pe­ti­tion—a case we proved ( go.pcworld. com/wbbl) awhile back. In our ex­ten­sive test­ing in June to de­ter­mine the best Web browser ( go.pcworld.com/wb18), Edge’s per­for­mance be­gins to shine through—with one caveat, as we wrote then: “The fact is, as a day-to-day browser Edge is ser­vice­able at best, and Mi­crosoft re­ally needs to step up its game es­pe­cially when it comes to load­ing mul­ti­ple tabs.”

Open­ing 20 me­dia-heavy tabs now feels about 90 to 95 per­cent of what I would ex­pect in terms of per­for­mance, and that’s with­out an ad blocker like Ghostery en­abled. Pages are al­most in­stantly nav­i­ga­ble. The only glitch I no­tice is that Ctrl+tab func­tion­al­ity for open­ing an ad­di­tional tab isn’t im­me­di­ately re­spon­sive. I can go back and forth be­tween pages quite eas­ily. Edge will “tomb­stone”

idle pages, how­ever, and that still slows down open tabs a bit more than I’d like.

As for new fea­tures, Edge now blocks videos from au­to­play­ing on in­di­vid­ual web­sites ( go.pcworld. com/nblk). It works pretty well, though you’ll still see a video win­dow or pop-up load even if the video doesn’t play. In fact, if you want to read a news story with­out ads or video, you can al­ways click the ex­ist­ing Read­ing View book icon in the URL bar—it’s a great fea­ture of Edge, and many peo­ple don’t use it. And if you do, Edge now al­lows you to high­light words and get def­i­ni­tions right within the right-click pop-up win­dow, a fea­ture that ex­tends to ebooks. You’ll also see help­ful short­cuts like Show In folder within the Downloads tab within Edge, which makes down­loaded files easy to find.

Google Chrome is still far su­pe­rior to

Edge in mi­grat­ing Fa­vorites via the cloud to a new ma­chine. Edge still has trou­ble pass­ing along pass­words. But Edge isn’t painful to use any­more. I feel it’s close enough for day-to­day use.

’CLOUD’ CLIP­BOARD IS A NEAT TRICK

Ev­ery­one by now knows the short­cuts for cut­ting and past­ing text within Win­dows: Ctrl+x to cut or Ctrl+c to copy, then Ctrl+v to paste. But this clip­board func­tion has im­proved in two dif­fer­ent, sig­nif­i­cant ways within the Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date, and they’re two of the best new fea­tures.

Within a new set­ting, Set­tings > Sys­tem > Clip­board, you’ll see two op­tions that you can turn on or off: Clip­board His­tory, and Sync Across De­vices. You’ll need to be signed in to a Mi­crosoft ac­count for the lat­ter to work.

When tog­gled on, the new short­cut Win + V opens a his­tory of links, im­ages, and text snip­pets you’ve cut and pasted, and al­lows you to se­lect them again. Once you use it, you’ll see the ap­peal.

My only prob­lems with Clip­board’s

his­tory are that how far back it goes seems some­what ar­bi­trary, and that the Clip­board win­dow isn’t mov­able. Pro-pri­vacy users have the op­tion of turn­ing Clip­board’s cloud stor­age off. You can also erase what’s stored in Clip­board on your de­vice and in the cloud, via the Set­tings menu.

Sync­ing across de­vices is even bet­ter: It’s a fancy name for copy­ing text from one PC (Ctrl+x or Ctrl+c), and then paste it on an­other. Yes, if you’re signed in, any­thing you cut or copy on one PC (up to 4MB) will be au­tomag­i­cally pasted into the app you’re us­ing on an­other PC, via the cloud, by typ­ing Ctrl+v. (Both PCS must be con­nected to the in­ter­net.) The 4MB limit is a painful crimp on the fea­ture’s util­ity, and it pales in com­par­i­son to the awe­some Mouse with­out Borders app ( go.pcworld.com/ mwbr), plus other so­lu­tions for trans­fer­ring files wire­lessly be­tween PCS. But the new Clip­board wins for its sim­plic­ity.

YOUR PHONE: A WORK IN PROGRESS

I was dis­ap­pointed by the un­der­whelm­ing Win­dows roadmap ( go. pcworld.com/mism) Mi­crosoft pre­sented at Build, and I can’t help be­ing some­what let down by the Your Phone app as well—in part, be­cause we’ve seen some of this be­fore. Be­fore the Win­dows 10 Fall Cre­ators Up­date de­buted, Mi­crosoft showed off a nifty way to tie your phone to your PC via Cor­tana ( go.pcworld.com/3w10), so you could re­ply to texts sent to your phone. En­abling Cor­tana on both your phone and PC pro­vided a con­ve­nient link be­tween both de­vices.

Dis­ap­point­ingly, Mi­crosoft ditched it. Your Phone, a new app which (may) pop up as a short­cut on your Win­dows desk­top, now re­quires the Your Phone Com­pan­ion app (formerly called the Mi­crosoft Apps app) to be in­stalled on your An­droid or IOS phone— yes, an­other Mi­crosoft mo­bile app to sit along­side Edge, Bing, Cor­tana, or the

Mi­crosoft Launcher. (Mi­crosoft has used some of these as phone-to-pc bridges be­fore.)

All Your Phone does is let you open, view, copy, and share pho­tos that you took on your phone, as well as send and re­ply to texts. (Delet­ing a photo from your phone erases it from Your Phone, too.) While that’s handy, if your phone au­to­mat­i­cally backs up pho­tos to Onedrive, the built-in Win­dows 10 Pho­tos app al­ready pro­vides this func­tion­al­ity. Texts can also al­ready be sent via Cor­tana, too, though Your Phone is a con­ve­nient short­cut.

I as­sume there’s a grow­ing frus­tra­tion within the Win­dows team that key fea­tures within the plat­form like Cor­tana, are go­ing un­used. But do we need an­other app? Or if we do, is it bet­ter than Push­bul­let ( go.pcworld.com/pshb)?

To be fair, Your Phone is straight­for­ward and sim­ple to use. What we’re see­ing at OS launch is a mo­ment in time for an app that will likely con­tinue to evolve, just as pen and voice in­ter­ac­tions are grad­u­ally work­ing their way into ev­ery PC life. Let’s call it a mod­est start for what we know will be a fu­ture where smart­phones and Win­dows PCS col­lab­o­rate as a mat­ter of course.

MI­CROSOFT FONT MAKER IS A FUN LIT­TLE GIM­MICK

Mi­crosoft Font Maker isn’t specif­i­cally built into the Win­dows 10 Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date, though Mi­crosoft re­leased it dur­ing its beta phase. In fact, you should be able to down­load Font Maker ( go.pcworld.com/ dwfm) from the Mi­crosoft Store and start us­ing it to make sim­ple fonts from your own hand­writ­ing right away.

Font Maker works best with a dig­i­tal pen and a tablet, so from that stand­point it’s some­what lim­it­ing. All you need to do is ink each let­ter and num­ber in the pro­vided tem­plate. When you’re fin­ished, you’ll have cre­ated a font that you can save to Win­dows and use within Word, Pow­erpoint, or wher­ever. It’s sim­ple, fun, and a bit gim­micky, but feels very Mi­crosoft in its in­te­gra­tion of cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity. In­ter­ested? Here’s our tu­to­rial teach­ing you how to use Mi­crosoft Font Maker ( go. pcworld.com/h2fm).

SKYPE FOR WIN­DOWS 10 TRIES A BIT TOO HARD TO BE FUN

At this point, Skype is a bit of a mess. Part of the prob­lem is sim­ply the num­ber of ver­sions: should I use Skype for Busi­ness? Skype’s Of­fice 365 app? Video calls as part of Mi­crosoft Teams? Skype’s on­line app? Or would I be bet­ter off us­ing the built-in Win­dows 10 app in­stead? Add to that the nu­mer­ous pre­views and be­tas that have come and gone over the years, and it’s no sur­prise that many have turned to mo­bile com­peti­tors like What­sapp in­stead. (Skype is also on phones, of course, where its UI was crit­i­cized heav­ily.)

With the Oc­to­ber

2018 Up­date, the na­tive app within Win­dows is re­ceiv­ing the Skype re­design that was an­nounced last year ( go. pcworld.com/skrd)— and,

quite frankly, many peo­ple ac­tively dis­like ( go. pcworld.com/clex). With a UI that leans heav­ily to­ward the con­sumer, you’ll find emoti­cons (if you need an av­o­cadolove emoti­con, Skype has you cov­ered), stick­ers, emo­jis, re­ac­tions to com­ments, a gallery win­dow to share files and other doc­u­ments— but no GIFS?

Yes, you can still text chat, per­form in­di­vid­ual and group video calls, and so on, but there’s a clear em­pha­sis on mak­ing Skype fun, while re­serv­ing se­ri­ous, busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tion for Mi­crosoft Teams. (Mi­crosoft Teams re­cently an­nounced a ro­bust free ver­sion [ go.pcworld.com/ slfr] that may lure more tra­di­tional Skype users.) Whether you like the new look of Skype will prob­a­bly be a mat­ter of taste.

COR­TANA + ALEXA, SNIP & SKETCH, AND OTHER BIT PLAY­ERS

Mi­crosoft pub­lished over 30 sep­a­rate In­sider builds as part of the run-up to the Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date, and what fil­tered out at the bot­tom in­cluded some smaller fea­tures that you may want to check out.

Ray­trac­ing sup­port is here: We weren’t able to nail this down by the time we orig­i­nally pub­lished the re­view, but Nvidia con­firmed to Pcworld’s Brad Cha­cos that the Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date sup­ports Directx Ray­trac­ing ( go. pcworld.com/dray), the API that will power the up­com­ing Nvidia Geforce GTX 2080 GPU ( go.pcworld.com/d280). It’s a small but sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment: only a small frac­tion of gamers will pur­chase the 2080 cards at launch. But ray trac­ing paints a 3D scene in a much more life­like way than tra­di­tional PC graph­ics, mod­el­ing in­di­vid­ual pho­tons as

they bounce off and pass through var­i­ous ob­jects and sur­faces.

Cor­tana, Alexa; Alexa, Cor­tana: Af­ter more than a year, Ama­zon’s Alexa and Mi­crosoft’s Cor­tana are now skills in their re­spec­tive ser­vices. If you tell Cor­tana to open Alexa ( go.pcworld. com/ammi), you’ll have ac­cess to ev­ery­thing Alexa can do, in­clud­ing plac­ing an or­der from Ama­zon. It might not be a new fea­ture within the Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date, per se, but it’s still a new ad­di­tion to Win­dows. Snip & Sketch: Screen­shot­ting tools are the stock in trade for those who write about Win­dows, and Win­dows 10 soon will get a new one: Snip & Sketch, which will re­place the Snip­ping Tool cur­rently within Win­dows. (You’ll get a note to that ef­fect ev­ery time you open it. Also, you can use it in place of the Prtscreen com­mand.) Snip & Sketch com­bines a screen­shot­ting tool with the draw­ing tools avail­able in Pho­tos and else­where. My big­gest com­plaint is that each screen­shot opens an­other in­stance of the app.

HD Color Set­tings: Pricey Hdr-equipped PC mon­i­tors prob­a­bly sell as well as pricey touch­screen-en­abled desk­top mon­i­tors (as in, not very). But if you’re one of the lucky few who has in­vested in an HDR dis­play, you’ll find new con­trols (Set­tings > Dis­play > Win­dows HD Color Set­tings) within the Dis­play Set­tings menu that will help you fig­ure out if you can use apps with HDR or wide color gamut set­tings. Oddly, there’s both an HD Color set­ting and an HDR cal­i­bra­tion menu. Tog­gling on and off the HDR set­ting on a Sur­face Pro 2017 did make a slight dif­fer­ence, even though the dis­play wasn’t specif­i­cally rated for HDR.

Font in­stal­la­tion for ev­ery­one: Win­dows pre­vi­ously treated adding fonts as a pro­tected func­tion, suit­able only for ad­min­is­tra­tors. Now, any­one can go to the Fonts sec­tion within the Mi­crosoft Store app and down­load away.

Mixed-re­al­ity “flash­light:” From what we can see, Win­dows Mixed Re­al­ity has been a bust ( go.pcworld.com/wnmr). But for those who have bought into Mi­crosoft’s vi­sion of vir­tual re­al­ity, Mi­crosoft of­fers you a life­line: In­stead of wan­der­ing around your liv­ing room fear­ful you’ll trip on your cat, Win­dows Mixed Re­al­ity now of­fers a “flash­light view” that shows you what’s go­ing on in the real world in front of you (which would nor­mally be blocked by your head­set.) A Youtube user named Cap­pa­holic has a video ( go. pcworld.com/capa) show­ing the “flash­light” in ac­tion.

WHAT’S MISS­ING, AND WHAT’S NEXT

Some of the new ad­di­tions that Mi­crosoft tested out within its In­sider pre­views were held back for a fu­ture re­lease. The tabbed ver­sion of Win­dows, known as Sets ( go. pcworld.com/sett), holds prom­ise as an al­ter­nate UI for sin­gle-screen ex­pe­ri­ences like lap­tops, whose win­dows can get lost among all of the clutter—but it’s not here yet. Planned up­dates to in­clude de­tailed geekier things like frame rates and CPU uti­liza­tion in the Game Bar were scrapped, though it’s still been over­hauled to add vol­ume con­trols.

Mi­crosoft in­di­cated that it would mi­grate an en­ter­prise tech­nol­ogy, called Win­dows De­fender Ex­ploit Guard, to help Win­dows 10 block “sus­pi­cious be­hav­iors”—but didn’t. We also were ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing a Smart Up­dater or Up­date AI fea­ture to help elim­i­nate the pain of un­ex­pected Win­dows up­dates, but it ap­pears to have been pulled. The Time­line fea­ture ( go.pcworld.com/tmln) was sup­posed to ex­tend to phones; it doesn’t.

Mi­crosoft now shifts gears to the next fea­ture up­date to Win­dows 10, which has a new nomen­cla­ture: “19H1,” re­fer­ring to the first-half up­date for 2019. (Mi­crosoft’s Xbox team has be­gun us­ing that ter­mi­nol­ogy [ go. pcworld.com/brds]) with Xbox In­sid­ers.) Ex­pect to see the fruits of those labors around April, the same time­frame as the ear­lier April 2018 Up­date.

It feels like Win­dows 10 de­vel­op­ment is slow­ing, and some be­lieve that they know why: a re-spin of Win­dows, known as Core OS. We re­cently re­ceived our best hint that Core OS (or WCOS) is real: the an­nounce­ment of a brand­new Win­dows “ex­pe­ri­ence” in­side the Sur­face Hub 2 ( go.pcworld.com/shb2), and pos­si­bly other de­vices, in 2020. A re­vamped Win­dows would jus­tify this rather ho-hum up­date.

Within Edge, you now have the op­tion of pre­vent­ing videos on a given web­site from au­to­play­ing us­ing this menu.

Both of the new Clip­board fea­tures are op­tional.

We can’t re­ally show you the process of cut­ting and past­ing from one PC to the other, but here’s what the Cloud Clip­board his­tory looks like.

You can al­ready send texts via Cor­tana, as shown here. Is Your Phone an in­di­ca­tor that Mi­crosoft is grow­ing frus­trated with the low num­ber of Cor­tana users? Or is Your Phone just an­other way to use your PC, much like a pen sup­ple­ments the key­board?

Your Phone is a sim­ple though ul­ti­mately un­nec­es­sary app. To be fair, though, it’s con­ve­nient.

Win­dows 10’s Font Maker is a fun, in­con­se­quen­tial lit­tle app that can turn your hand­writ­ing into a Win­dows font.

Skype now has a play­ful feel that will ap­peal to some and an­noy oth­ers. Note that some of these el­e­ments, such as the “re­ac­tions” to chats, are in Skype 12, the ver­sion of Skype that’s in the Win­dows 10 Spring 2018 Up­date. Oth­ers, like the color themes, are new.

With a rel­a­tive dearth of Cor­tana-pow­ered smart de­vices for the home, Alexa can be used as an in­ter­me­di­ary. But many of the same queries you can ask Alexa can be an­swered by Cor­tana, too.

Snip & Sketch pro­vides an easy way to cap­ture a por­tion of the screen and mark it up.

The Set­tings menu in­cludes an ex­am­ple video (as pre­vi­ous up­dates to Win­dows have) where you can tog­gle on and off HDR to see the ef­fects. Mi­crosoft also has an Hdr-within-win­dows tu­to­rial at go.pcworld.com/ hdrt if you’d like more de­tail.

Even­tu­ally, we’ll see the tabbed Sets in­ter­face within Win­dows 10.

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