The Windows 10 November Update: What’s coming on your PC

by November 13, 2015 0 comments

Microsoft today released a massive rollup of fixes for Windows 10 called theWindows 10 November Update or Threshold2.

Threshold 2 is now publicly available for everyone to download, as Microsoft released it a few hours back as the Windows 10 November Update, confirming on Twitter that it will be a staggered release.

 

But below is a list of some of the major new improvements:

Start Menu

With the enhanced focus on the desktop environment in Windows 10, the Start Menu remains a key feature of the OS, and rightly so, got some treatment in the November Update. The most visible change is the ability to add a fourth column of tiles, which now allows you to fit up to four medium or two large Live Tiles per group.

Microsoft has also upped the allowable app count from 2048. Previously this stopped at 512 and the Start Menu was unable to display more applications if they were installed. This should give you plenty of room to pin apps.The context menus inside the Start Menu also have a more consistent look, and tile sizes can now be changed more easily thanks to a revision of the Resize submenu.

Context Menus

You can see the redesigns in the Desktop, Taskbar and Power User context menus. The former of which now unveils a new light gray color scheme, while the Taskbar and Power User context menus make use of a dark style in line with the dark color scheme in Windows 10.

Desktop

The desktop environment, more or less, remains the same as it is in the vanilla version of Windows 10, save for a few noticeable UI changes listed above. In addition to these, there is a new colored title bar that brings the desktop a little closer to File Explorer and the Windows apps. To activate it, hit up Settings > Personalization > Colors and enable the Show color on Start, Taskbar, action center, and title bar option. You can now resize the adjacent app at the same time when you are resizing a window. This has been a highly requested feature and can be enabled by going to Settings > System > Multitasking.

Icons

Icons have been a hot topic, ever since Windows 10 was announced. And while Microsoft has not completely changed all the old icons in the operating system, users now have access to several new ones, which can be viewed in Control Panel, Device Manager and Registry.

Cortana

Starting with Cortana, the personal assistant now recognizes details like phone numbers, email addresses as well as physical addresses that you write in the notebook with a stylus. It also gets the ability to track events and movie bookings and can now set reminders and more.

Another important change is the ability to alert you about missed calls from your Windows phone. You can even reply the missed calls via text messages right from the notification. Your phone will receive the text and send the message to the recipient. All this can be enabled by going to the Missed call notifications in Cortana settings.

The personal digital assistant is also now officially available in new markets like Japan, Australia, Canada, and India in English.

Microsoft Edge

Edge has also been in the news lately, and the fledgling web browser has now received tab previews and options to sync favorites and reading lists across devices. Security improvements and bug fixes are also in to make for a more stable and secure experience.

Password can now also be synced across devices, and you can now highlight text and research content from within PDF files.

The Object Real-Time Communication (ORTC) technology also makes the cut in this update, and this band new API allows you to have real-time communications without the need to install plugins. Should be great for Skype users, this.

The browser can also cast media to devices, similar to Google Chromecast — with no setup required. Meaning you can cast pictures, audio and video from Edge to any other Miracast or DLNA device on your network like TVs, monitors, projectors and more.

And since the web browser is now deeply integrated with Cortana, it can now let you know when coupons from some of the more popular retailers are available when you shop with Edge. Retailers like Staples, Macys and Best Buy.

You can also launch multiple instances of the web browser now, and the F12 tools panel that web developers use can also be docked to the main window.

Apps

Microsoft has rolled out new updates for a number of the default, built-in apps in Windows 10 including Mail and Calendar, Photos, Camera and Groove Music. However, the Fall Update also adds in a number of new applications like Sway. And, of course, the new messaging apps that are powered by Skype.

Once you deploy the November Update, you will find the new Messaging, Phone and Skype video apps installed on your system. These are a work in progress, though, and very basic right now. Meaning their usability is hit or miss. Hopefully regular updates fix their issues.

Settings

The Settings apps is one area where Microsoft focused on rather heavily. And that is because the company is keen on doing away with the traditional Control Panel in the desktop environment, and transitioning any and all options into this modern implementation.

You will find, perhaps, the most number of improvements in the Settings app, with several interesting new features that fall under the System, Devices, Personalization, Accounts and Privacy panels.

Memory Management

November Update also brings along an updated Memory Manager that offers a new feature called compression store. When more memory is needed, this technology basically compresses unused pages in RAM instead of writing them to disk.

This concept will make computers run a bit faster, particularly those with low end hardware.

Reset This PC

Microsoft has made some updates to the Reset This PC feature, and it will now restore your system to the Fall Update, instead of RTM, which was Windows 10 build 10240. The company obviously wants all users to stick with the latest releases, and this move makes sense.

Activation

Importantly, the software titan has made the activation process a lot easier. You can now activate Windows 10 using your genuine Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 product key, without having to go through the somewhat tiresome and troublesome upgrade process first.

In case the activation fails, you can change the product key easily now by going to Settings > Update & security > Activation.

This version of Windows, Threshold 2, is also now the default, baseline version of the operating system, and Microsoft will be hoping to makes sure that as many users as possible hop onto this new release.

Enterprise Features

The November Update enables three additional features for the enterprise:

Disable telemetry. As promised, the November update includes the ability for enterprise IT to disable telemetry feedback to Microsoft. “We strongly recommend against this, as this data helps us deliver a secure, reliable, and more delightful personalized experience,” Microsoft explains.

Mobile Device Management improvements that light up Enterprise Mobility Management (EMS) capabilities for managing Windows devices (PCs, tablets, phones, and IOT devices). “Windows 10 is the only platform that can manage BYOD scenarios from the device to the apps to the data on those devices – safely and securely,” Microsoft says.

Azure Active Directory Join so that IT can maintain a single directory spanning on-prem and cloud infrastructure. This enables users to have a single sign-in and federate Windows settings and data across all of their Windows 10 devices.

Additionally, the following two free services are now available to businesses:

Windows Update for Business lets IT control the deployment of updates within their organizations, and ensures that their devices are kept current and their security needs are met, while reducing management cost. IT admins can create device groups for staggered update deployments, and can scale deployments with network optimizations, Microsoft says.

Windows Store for Business provides a flexible way for IT to obtain, deploy, manage and use public and private line of business (LOB apps. Here, organizations can create their own private catalog—what Microsoft calls “a store within the public Business Store”.

Looking ahead, Microsoft is testing an enterprise data protection feature with select enterprise customers, and plans to roll it out more broadly in 2016.

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