Microsoft’s next Windows 10 upgrade, referred to as April 2018 Update, improves Windows in numerous ways. But Microsoft has also added innumerable under-the-hood adjustments. That’s why this roundup exists: to underscore smaller additions you may miss, or explain subtle alterations in how Windows 10 works.
(Update: We’ve updated this story now that Microsoft has confirmed the following feature update of Windows as the April 2018 Update.)
Unlike previous lists we’ve compiled, some of these hidden features seem tentative, with more work clearly needed. Fortunately, Microsoft seems inclined to keep developing Windows 10, with no major replacement on the radar. (We’ll highlight the very best features included in our review.)
One-click data deletion
One of the continued complaints about using Windows 10 is Microsoft’s use of telemetry, i.e. collecting all sorts of information about you as you use Windows. Well, in addition to the privacy controls already built into Windows, there’s now an actual Delete button (Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback) which removes all of the diagnostic data that Microsoft has collected on your device.
Because the disclaimer notes, you may have information associated with your Microsoft account stored inside the cloud. You’ll need to visit Microsoft’s privacy dashboard to purge this information.
App-by-app GPU management
If you own a desktop PC with a graphics card, you probably realize that both AMD and Nvidia supply utilities whose functions include selecting which GPU apps you should use: either the economical integrated graphics chip within your CPU, or even the power-hungry discrete GPU. Now Windows takes treatments for that call automatically. (Go to Settings > Display, then click the Graphics settings link in the very bottom from the page.)
Don’t worry, this isn’t another case of Windows intruding into your life. With many apps, letting Windows make the decision is perfectly reasonable (apps have the ultimate say). However in the rare case where you’d prefer your integrated GPU to operate a simpler game like Asphalt 8 to preserve your laptop’s battery life, this new control enables you to do this.
A better Game Bar
Microsoft wants you to stream Computer games via Mixer, and to help you do this, it’s revamped the sport Bar. Now you’ll find a clock (hurray!) in addition to toggles to show your mic and camera off and on. You are able to edit your Mixer stream title. Game Bar’s still a little obtrusive sometimes, and could be so, the more toggles and switches Microsoft is tempted to add here. However the new additions are helpful.
Fonts within the Microsoft Store
A lot of us possess a few favored fonts, and that’s it. But for those who should you prefer a more varied typeface, Microsoft now allows you to download new fonts in the Microsoft Store. There’s only nine approximately as of this writing, but Microsoft seems to be likely to increase the, just as the company has added dozens of Themes to personalize your PC.
These fonts could be managed out of your Settings menu, specifically Settings > Personalization > Fonts. As the settings permit you to preview a font in its various derivatives (regular, black, bold, italic and bold italic for the Arial font, for instance) it also enables you to adjust new, variable fonts like Bahnschrift. Clicking Variable font properties down at the bottom from the page allows you to adjust its weight and width.
Swift Pair: On-demand Bluetooth pairing
Normally, Bluetooth pairing on a PC goes something like this: via Settings > Devices > Bluetooth, you click the + icon to start the pairing process, then initiate pairing on the device as well.
The Spring Creators Update partially eliminates Windows in the equation. Whenever you trigger a pairing request from a device, Windows pops up a notification asking you whether you’d like to undergo with the request. Microsoft calls this Swift Pair.
In your own home, Swift Pair sounds great. However in a crowded airport lounge or perhaps a community workspace, Swift Pair seems rife for mischievous or outright malevolent exploitation. Regardless, you won’t be seeing much of it, as it’s enabled just for the Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse, for now at least.
Go password-less within Windows 10 S
If you are using a Windows 10 S machine, you’ll are in possession of a choice of completely eliminating passwords in support of the Authenticator app for Android or iOS. Essentially, Microsoft’s sneaking a more secure two-factor authentication method to your PC.
I haven’t tested this personally, as I previously migrated PCWorld’s in-house Surface Laptop onto Windows 10 Pro. But I’ve used the Authenticator app frequently. The app either provides you with a choice of entering a time-limited code into your PC, or, more conveniently, allows you to approve an authentication request with a single click. Given that Windows 10 S looks like it’s becoming the public face of Windows 10, you might see this option increasingly more.
Somewhat better Settings for your PC’s audio
Placing granular audio controls inside your taskbar would be a nice feature from the Fall Creators Update. But Microsoft’s perpetual problem is this too many controls are scattered about, divvied up between the taskbar, Settings, and User interface. Microsoft’s designed a go of trying to phase the Control Panel’s audio settings by putting more granular controls within the Settings menu. (It’s still a piece happening.)
As the new Settings menu adds individual UWP app controls within the Audio settings, it conveniently leaves them in place around the taskbar, too. What’s new are handy audio and mic level indicators that offer real-time feedback.
It’s extremely frustrating, though, that Windows still doesn’t provide a basic graphics equalizer-even though Microsoft added one to its Groove Music app, then wiped out the Groove service that powered it, then routed users to Spotify. Will the Spotify app possess a graphics equalizer yet? Absolutely not.
Autocorrect/autosuggest for hardware keyboard
In this particular release, Windows 10’s Spring Creators Update tries to provide the same smartphone-like autocorrect and autosuggest functions for that hardware keyboard that it does for that software keyboard that appears on Windows tablets. Neither, unfortunately, really delivers.
Within Settings > Devices > Typing, you have the choice to toggle on auto-correct capabilities as well as auto-suggested words-but, oddly, auto-suggested words were enabled only when you toggle on auto-correction. As you type in apps like WordPad or Word, Windows appears a summary of three suggested words. Unfortunately, Windows’ guesses are consistently poor; typing “dipt” yielded guesses like “football.” And exactly how in which you actually select your word choice-clicking the up-arrow, then clicking the left- and right-arrow to navigate for your choice-quickly makes auto-suggestions a chore.
Every smartphone’s keyboard already knows how to properly suggest words. When will Windows learn?
Improved eye tracking controls with Eye Control
For many people, eye tracker peripherals such as those produced by Tobii remain their primary way of getting together with Windows. (Windows won’t track your eyes together with your laptop’s built-in webcam.) For those who routinely use them, Microsoft has fine-tuned the shortcut menu by which users can interact with Eye Control, together with a way to pause Eye Control to passively watch a video.
Better support for HDR displays
Chances are that you don’t own a very beautiful, expensive, state-of-the-art HDR display. But Microsoft looks forward to each day when both professional artists and everyday users enjoy a panel with higher graphic fidelity. Inside the Fall Creators Update, Settings > Apps > Video Playback allowed you to toggle HDR support and apply processing capacity to enhance the visual quality.
Inside the Spring Creators Update, you will get a few new options, including calibrating your display (click Change calibration settings for HDR video…) that permits you to tweak the brightness from the display. (The “video” you’re asked to adjust looks a lot like the static image below.)
You also have more options when selecting to experience back video. Inside the FCU, you’d the option to emphasize better life of the battery or better video when playing back video, including applying processing power. The latter option reduced life of the battery as it brightened the screen. Now, you have the option of leaving the screen brightness dialed down, while still applying more processing power to clean up the recording.
Although I could see noticeable changes to the demonstration video on Microsoft’s page as I adjusted the settings, I wouldn’t say there is any measurable improvement. A part of that might happen to be because Windows mistakenly identified my test Surface Laptop as a device capable of rendering HDR video. The graphics properties of my adapter indicated that both Laptop’s display, plus an external HDR-capable monitor within our lab, were still being rendered in SDR mode. If HDR takes off, Windows will have to indicate more clearly to users what their visual choices are.
A bigger MyPeople posse
Microsoft debuted MyPeople within the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, enabling you to include icons as high as three of your closest friends within the taskbar, and giving them the opportunity to send pop-up notifications that included emoji. Microsoft originally limited the amount of MyPeople friends to 3; ten is now the limit. You can now drag and drop the icons to rearrange them, too. Previously, Microsoft hid any overflow within a separate, default icon. The friends who don’t rate being included on your taskbar hide underneath the MyPeople icon itself.
Cortana changes, and not for that better
The appointment of Javier Soltero (accountable for the superb Outlook mobile app) as Cortana’s new boss will hopefully fast-track Cortana’s development, that has stagnated. For the time being, the only real addition to Cortana is updated Lists, as well as better natural-language recognition, a la the Harman-Kardon Invoke.
Cortana was supposed to have added a kind of meta-List, called Collections, with recommendations for recipes, websites, and much more. However the only suggestions Cortana provided were on my to-do list, for example “homework” and “water plants.” C’mon.
Meanwhile, an important facet of Cortana, the “I’ve got more for you” box, has been actively demoted. This feature accustomed to pop up a summary of relevant news stories, stock values, sports scores, and much more within the Fall Creators Update. Microsoft supposedly planned to migrate it in to the Notifications Center in the lower right-hand corner. If that’s the case, it never made it to my Insider builds.
Microsoft announced a preview app called Cortana Show Me inside a late Insider build. Though it hasn’t yet downloaded to my machine, it sounds useful: like the “out from the box experience” that utilizes the friendly Cortana persona to help set up a new PC, Show Me walks you through a series of guides of common Windows tasks.
Windows for Workstations Ultimate Performance
This can be a true hidden feature, if only because few of you’ll run Windows for Workstations, the prerequisite with this feature. Microsoft describes this as going a measure past the current “high performance” setting, eliminating micro-latencies associated with fine grained power management techniques. (It consumes a little more power consequently.)
Most gamers would like to see this option migrate down to Windows 10 Pro-or a hypothetical Gaming Edition-but it hasn’t happened yet.
As with any Microsoft feature release, there are lots of more upgrades and changes than we’ve provided here. What are your favorites? Take a look at PCWorld’s Twitter feed or Facebook page and let us know.