What’s new in Windows?
Need reminding what’s been added and improved in successive versions of Windows 10? These are the features to look out for
When it first appeared, Windows 10 introduced lots of new features, from a revamped desktop to Cortana, the virtual personal assistant who’s always on hand to help, provided you’re prepared to give up some of your privacy. Internet Explorer got dumped in favour of the all-singing (if not, initially at least, all-dancing) Edge web browser. It also blended the best bits of Windows 8.1 – the vastly superior File Explorer for accessing your files, for example – with the best bits of Windows 7, such as bringing back the Start menu.
Other changes have followed with each new successive feature release. The step-by-step guide on the facing page highlights six major new features, but numerous smaller changes have been applied with each release too. For example, the Anniversary Edition also introduced a new dark theme that – from the Fall Creators Update – can now be applied to compatible apps too.
‘Night light’ was a highlight of the Creators Update, helping to reduce eyestrain when using your PC at night (switchable via the Action Centre). A new Game Mode was also introduced, which aims to prioritise system resources when you’re playing games so that the experience is as smooth as possible.The Creators Update also made it easy to capture a selected portion of your screen and copy it to the clipboard with a single key combination – [Shift] + [Win] + [S].
The Fall Creators Update introduced Mixed Reality – the ability to mix actual footage with 3D objects – as well as a handful of other minor new features.
Refining existing features
Bigger changes can be detected when looking at features introduced with Windows 10. Cortana’s become smarter over time, but there are question marks over privacy as she offers to integrate herself more closely into your daily life. The Start menu has continued to evolve as well, with design tweaks such as removing the default ‘most used’ view for apps in favour of an All Apps list underneath recently added or updated programs. Advertisements have started to appear here too, but we’ll show you how to remove these later.
The Action Centre has been rolled into the notifications pop-out that’s accessible from the bottom-right corner of the Taskbar. This has evolved to give you more control over what’s shown along with handy features such as Quiet Hours, which enables you to disable notifications for a specific period.
When Windows 10 was launched the Settings app contained only a limited number of system tweaks, while the Control Panel still played a major role. With each major release, Microsoft has rolled more functionality into the Settings app, with the Control Panel increasingly sidelined. Since the Creators Update, it’s no longer accessible from the ‘Quick access’ menu ([Win] + [X]) and its days are certainly numbered – for now, access the Control Panel via the search bar or by pressing [Win] + [R], typing ‘control’ and pressing [Enter].
The list of apps that are integrated with Windows 10 has also changed over time – the Windows 10 Skype app was added to the Anniversary Edition, while Paint 3D first appeared in the Creators Update. The Paint app also got a major overhaul in the Fall Creators Update.
Prevent eyestrain after dark with the new ‘Night light’ feature.
Windows 10’s Action Centre has been refined numerous times.