Windows 10’s Redstone 4 (version 1803) is the next major release set to deliver a new wave of features and improvements. Although we’re still in the early days, there has been a number of previews unveiling a number of changes coming to the platform.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the new features and changes Microsoft is working on for the fifth feature update for Windows 10 coming in 2018. (You can follow the Redstone 4 development here.)
- What’s new on desktop experience
- What’s new on Settings experience
- What’s new on input experience
- What’s new on system experience
- What’s new on Microsoft Edge
What’s new on desktop experience
You can also check out this walkthrough video with all changes included in the most recent Windows 10 Insider Preview build. Check this guide: Windows 10 build 17074 releases with new features for even more changes.
In this new update, the Start menu includes Reveal highlight, which is an interactive visualization that brings illumination to display hidden borders, helps you navigate, and interact with an app. You’ll see this feature while hovering items in the All apps list and Live Tiles.
Additionally, right-clicking an Microsoft Store app, and selecting More, you’ll now see a Settings option that will take you straight to settings page for that particular app.
When using the dark theme option the “Clear all,” “Expand”/”Collapse,” and “See more” the links text now use the current system accent color. In Addition, the “Clear all” text has been replaced for “Clear all notifications” to make clearer the action of the button.
Action Center now supports a two-finger touch gesture to dismiss all notifications.
If a notification doesn’t support being dismissed, the toast will now show an X instead of an arrow, and when writing a response in a notification and you dismiss it by accident, Action center will now save the draft automatically.
In addition, Action Center uses “am”/”pm” when indicating timestamp with the 12-hour clock format, rather than “a”/”p”.
On version 1803, the Cortana’s Notebook is getting a face lift that makes the experience easier to use and more responsive with tabs and card-based items.
In the new experience, the Organizer tab is where you’ll now find lists and reminders, and the Manage Skills tab is where you can now change many of the Cortana settings.
The update also adds your account picture in the left rail to align the design with the Start menu experience.
Additionally, Cortana will now provide activities suggestions to resume tasks using Timeline.
Windows 10 introduces Cortana Collections with the Lists experience, a new feature that allows the assistant to save you time by “noticing and remembering things,” such as recipes, restaurants, books, movies and TV shows you want to watch, and things you shop online without you having to do anything.
Using Collections, as Cortana gathers these things, it’ll put them into an organized list that you can customize. Also, the feature learns as you use it, which means that items you don’t like may not appear in the future.
In order to make Cortana actions less confusing, instead of appearing in the Cortana app and Action Center, moving forward all Cortana’s proactive content that you may need to take action will only appear in Action Center.
With this change, the Cortana app now has more space to provide tips, assistance, and tools to make you more productive.
In addition, when the default location is set on your computer, the assistant now knows how to show you location-based reminders in the area of your device.
The taskbar in the new version of Windows 10 isn’t getting major improvements, but now Microsoft has turned on the Fluent Design Acrylic material effect.
You’ll also find this effect in Clock & Calendar, Volume, Input, My People, and Share experience.
Also, the Windows Update icon in the notification area now shows warnings and alerts that require your action, and right-clicking the icon will give you access to restart, schedule, or open Windows Update.
When you right-click the Windows Defender Security Center icon, you’ll notice new options to do a quick scan, update definition, change notifications, and launch the Windows Defender app.
In File Explorer, OneDrive will now show a cloud status icon informing you the sync state of files on folders. However, you can always disable this option on Folder Options > View, and clearing the Always show availability status option.
In this update, you’ll also find a new feature called Near Share that allows you to share any type of files and web links with minimal efforts wirelessly to nearby devices using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity — similar to Apple’s AirDrop feature.
The experience come enabled by default, and you can enable or disable using the Quick action button in Action Center, or Share experiences page in the Settings app. (You can learn more about Near Share in this guide.)
In the new release of Windows 10, My People introduces a number of small tweaks, including:
- Ability to drag and drop contacts to rearrange them when they’re pinned into the taskbar.
- You are allowed to pin more than three contacts into the taskbar.
- You can drop contacts in and out of the experience flyout.
- The experience has Acrylic material enabled by default.
- You’ll now receive emotive notifications from any contact.
- There’s a new animation to indicate a contact is pinned in the overflow list in the flyout.
- My People now suggests other apps you can connect to the experience.
Timeline is an expansion of Task View, and it’s a feature that allows to find and resume activities you were working in the past. It could be from a previous activity you were working on your Windows 10 device, or another PC, Android, or iOS device connected to your Microsoft account.
Basically, Timeline enhances Task View allowing you to pick up where you left off any activities in the last 30 days, as well as activities on apps that are currently running on your computer.
You can access Timeline with the new update Task View button in the taskbar. In the experience, you’ll see as list of running applications at the top, while your Timeline activities appears at the bottom sorted by day with two rows of activities.
In the case, you can find a particular activity, you can click the See all button in the header to view all the activities for that day organized by hour. In the left, you’ll find a scrollbar, and at the top there is a search button to quickly pick up where you left off an activity.
Virtual Desktop isn’t going away on Windows 10 version 1803, you can still access the experience within Task View, but the button now appears in the top-left left corner.
Here’s a full demonstration of Timeline on Windows 10:
What’s new on Settings experience
On Windows 10 version 1803 (Redstone 4), the Settings app is getting an overhaul with a new homepage that includes smaller icons with titles aligned to the right. Sections now feature the Acrylic material effect on left side, the home button is now a house icon, and a lot of other other tweaks and improvements.
In addition, when using the light theme the Reveal highlight effect is more noticeable than before. You’ll not only see this in the Settings app, but across Windows 10 too.
Using the Display settings, it’s now possible to adjust the brightness of SDR content on HDR displays.
Also, there is a new Advanced display settings option, under the “Multi displays” section, that allows you to access more details about your monitor.
In the “Advanced scaling settings” page, there is a new Let Windows try to fix apps, so they’re not blurry option to allow Windows 10 to fix blurry applications automatically without having to sign out when changing settings, dock/undocking, and during a remote session.
Additional, Microsoft has added a new Change high DPI settings option in traditional programs .exe file properties to override global high DPI settings.
The Sound page is new to the “System” section, and it brings the most common sound settings to the Settings app. You not only can get control system volume and microphone, but you can also select the input and output devices and troubleshoot problems within this page.
The Storage page, under the “Storage sense” section, now includes a new Free up space now link that allows you direct access to the page to delete temporary files. Also, with this update, you can delete even more temporary files, including:
- Windows upgrade log files.
- System created Windows Error Reporting Files.
- Windows Defender Antivirus.
- Temporary files.
- Recycle Bin.
- Previous Windows installations.
- Temporary Internet Files.
- Device driver packages.
- Delivery Optimization Files.
- DirectX Shared Cache.
The Multitasking page isn’t getting major changes, but now includes an option to enable or disable suggestions in Timeline.
The Share experiences page has been updated to accommodate the setting for the new Near Share feature. Within the page, you can enable or disable the feature, configure permissions, and change the default location to save incoming files.
Pen & Windows Ink
The Pen & Windows Ink settings page includes a new option that allows you to change the font that the system uses to convert your handwriting into actual text.
The Startup page is a new page in the “Apps” section that allows you to control which apps are allowed to run at startup, instead of having to use Task Manager.
In the Advanced options for Microsoft Store apps will now include a new Startup tasks feature that allows you to manage the tasks from an app that can run on startup. However, this is a new feature, and it’s up to the developer to implement. Otherwise, the option won’t be available.
In the network adapter properties page, you’ll not find a link to access the Data usage page.
The Data usage page is getting a number of tweaks with this release, including the ability to see more clearly an overview of data usage from the last 30 days. In addition, you can now set the data limit per adapter to help you avoid going over your data plan, and you get the option to restrict background data to reduce data usage.
If you have cellular connection (e.g., 4G LTE), you’ll find that the Cellular page now lets you set connections priorities. For example, you can set your device to use a cellular connectivity instead when the wireless network around you is not reliable.
In the Taskbar page, you can now control more options about My People, including the ability to pin more contacts and disable suggestions of apps you can connect to the experience.
Apps & features
Inside the Apps & features page, you’ll find some interesting new improvements. For example, the Manage app execution aliases is a new page that allows you to decide if an app can used its declared alias that you can use to start with Command Prompt. This is particular useful if you have apps that happen to have the same alias.
In the Advanced settings for Microsoft Store apps, you can now manage a lot of options, including the ability to change app permissions. You can set an app as your new default. The Settings app also includes a new Terminate button that you can use to terminate the app and related processes if it’s not responding. Of course, the Reset and Uninstall options are still available.
In the Video playback page there’s a new option that allows you to have Windows 10 automatically adjust SDR (standard dynamic range) video based on the lighting around your environment.
In the Sign-in options page for local accounts, Windows 10 now allows users to set security questions to recover their account from the Lock screen in case you forget your password.
As a result of this change, the process to create a new local account has changed, and now, you’ll asked to set up security questions during the creation of a new account.
Region & Language
In the Region & Language page, the experience has been updated to show whether a language supports text-to-speech, speech recognition, and handwriting using a new set of icons on the top-right.
You can also use the arrows to set a new language as your default, and perhaps more importantly the interface to install a new language has been redesigned.
In the Keyboard page, you’ll find a number of interesting changes as well. Starting with Windows 10 version 1803, using the Keyboard page allows you to install layouts more quickly, and it now allows you to change the default keyboard independently of the default language configured on your device.
Accessing the options for the a particular keyboard, you can now change supported settings like touch keyboard and hardware keyboard.
Inside the Advanced keyboard settings page, you’ll also be able to customize a number of other settings, including the ability to switching input method, more touch keyboard settings, and Emoji panel.
The Game Mode page has also been updated to include a reset option with the ability to roll back changes to its original settings.
Ease of Access
In the Redstone 4 update, Ease of Access is getting numerous tweaks to make it easier to use depending on your requirements.
The settings are now divided into groups to help you see, hear, and interact with settings more quickly. Microsoft is even making it settings easier to understand.
Ease of access brings common screen settings for faster configuration with the new Display page. For example, in this page, you can have the options to adjust scaling settings, change brightness, disable system animations and transparency, and even an option to control notification time and disable the desktop background.
Cursor, pointer and touch feedback
This new page is where users can now find the “change cursor thickness”, “Change pointer size and color”, and “Change touch feedback” settings.
In this page there are no new features, but you’ll notice that Magnifier no longer includes a list of shortcuts. Instead, the shortcuts will be display under their corresponding settings.
The Narrator page now allows you to select the desired audio channel for speech output using the new “Select Narrator audio output device” option, and you’ll now find a setting to control verbosity of text characteristics.
Under “Choose when to start Narrator,” you can enable Narrator settings before login.
This page now includes better descriptions while selecting a filter, and there is a new color wheel to help you get a feel for the effect of each of the different available color filters.
The Audio page is a new page that lets users control system volume, enable mono audio, and there is even a feature to show audio alerts visually.
Divides the settings into three groups, including “Change caption font,” “Change caption background,” and “Dim window content.”
On Ease of Access, Speech Recognition is a new page that allows to control Windows Speech Recognition on your PC.
The Keyboard page has been updated to include options to disable the keyboard shortcuts for the available features.
In the Cortana’s Notifications page there are two new options:
- Help me “Pick up where I left off” — Allows Cortana to surface activities you can resume from other devices.
- Get collections suggestions — Allows the assistant to make suggestions and surface related updates about collections.
The Activity history page is new to Windows 10 Redstone 4, and it’s the place to configure most of the options for Timeline. The page includes options to filter account activities in your timeline. You can prevent Windows from collecting activities on your device. And if something isn’t working correctly or you want to remove all the current activities, there’s a button to clear your activity history.
Additional Privacy settings
The Documents, Pictures, and Videos pages have been incorporated to let you control which apps can access your files.
Alongside with the ability to limit the bandwidth Windows 10 uses to download system and apps updates, starting with version 1803, the Delivery Optimization page allows you limit the download bandwidth that is used in foreground downloads.
If you’re unfamiliar, “foreground downloads” are those when you interactively start a download. For example, when you click on “Check for updates” or start downloading an app from the Microsoft Store.
What’s new on input experience
Windows 10 is also improving the way you use input devices, whether you use natural handwriting using a pen or typing using the touch keyboard.
Starting with version 1803, the touch keyboard experience is getting Acrylic — the new transparent element part of the Fluent Design System. It now supports the standard keyboard layout for all languages.
It expands the share-writing feature previously available only with the one-handed keyboard to the wide keyboard.
Also, the touch keyboard now supports split layout, and there’s a new animation when launching or dismissing the keyboard.
The handwriting experience is also receiving a number of tweaks, including improved correction recognition and insertion gesture (to add space between words or letters).
On gestures, you can now use a “split” (vertical line) gesture between two words to create more space between words, and it’s possible to draw a split gesture inside a word to break apart the word and ink more characters in the new space.
Windows 10 incorporates a new gesture so you can automatically commit your text and clear out the text in the handwriting panel. In addition, the gesture to insert space between characters has been changed to carrot, and the handwriting panel commits writing on 90-degree angle.
The Emoji panel data has been updated so that emojis will appear as you’re typing related words with the touch keyboard. There is support for more languages that didn’t previously support emoji candidates. And using the Windows logo key + “.” or “;” shortcuts, you can browse, search and then select more than one emoji, and the panel won’t go away until you click close button or press “Esc” key.
You can now configure suggestions on Settings > [LANGUAGE] > Options > Hardware keyboard.
What’s new on the system experience
Microsoft Fluent Design system
Windows 10 softens the light press effect based on feedback, and enables Reveal by default in CalendarView (Clock and Calendar flyout).
The Volume, Input, Share, My People, and taskbar now uses Acrylic material.
In the Redstone 4 update, the Lock screen will now show you your screen personalization (e.g., Windows Spotlight, Cortana, Calendar, and Mail) if you don’t sign and wait for a few seconds.
Windows Shell improvements
The new update also continues to improve the Windows Shell experience on mixed-PDI monitor setups, language, Start menu, and People feature.
Additional improvements with Windows 10
On Windows 10 now updates the Run dialog so when hold Ctrl + Shift then click OK or press Enter, it will run that task or program elevated.
Apps registered to restart on restart or after a shutdown will only occur if “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting my device after an update or restart” option is enabled in the Sign-in options settings page.
Redstone 4 also delivers a much better version of Microsoft Edge with an updated dark theme that offers improved contrast, darker blacks, icons, and text.
The browser finally includes an option to mute tab that make sound by clicking the speaker icon or right-clicking the tab.
The navigation, tab, and actions buttons and across the experience you’ll now find the Reveal highlight effect.
It’s now possible to right-click the Favorites bar to hide it, and right-click a favorite to hide its name individually.
There are also improvements to improve management of PDF and EPUB books.
Using a precision touchpad, you can now pinch-to-zoom or panning websites with two fingers.
Microsoft Edge finally brings support for Service Workers, and Push and Cache APIs to allow new experiences, such as the ability to view website and access services offline, refresh data in the background even if Edge is closed, and send notifications. In addition, the browser now includes its Web Media Extensions plug-in by default to allow support for open formats (for example, Theora and OGG Vorbis).
If you’re reading a free EPUB book, you can now save the book to your PC, and the Books section now includes a right-click context menu with convenient options like: “Remove from device,” “View in Microsoft Store,” “Pin to Start,” “Refresh books”.
The web browser introduces options to save and automatically fill your preferred information in forms. You can either use the new “Manage form entries” in advanced settings to specify your info beforehand, or Microsoft Edge will prompt you to save your info as you fill out a new form. In the future, you can simply select the preferred information from a drop-down menu to complete all the related fields.
If you’re just getting started with the Fall Creators Update, watch this walkthrough video highlighting all the new features and changes.
Editor’s note: This guide includes features and improvements that appeared until Windows 10 build 17046, and the remaining changes are detailed in build 17074 video embedded above. It should be noted that this guide focuses on features for consumers, as Microsoft is also adding other features aimed for enterprises, which aren’t included here.