You see a pop-up when you boot up your Windows 10 computer. It's telling you the April 2018 update has been installed (or you see a notice that you can choose to install it). Since updating an operating system is now such a common occurrence, you might wonder: Is it worth your time? Do you really gain any new features or is just business as usual? Is this merely a security fix?
Surprisingly, the April update is packed with features that can help you your job. Even if you installed it weeks ago or bought a new laptop recently, the update goes well beyond security fixes and cosmetic upgrades. Here are the best features to explore. (We've skipped a few that are not as useful to those in an office setting, such as the mixed reality gaming features, the new Cortana features for smart home automation, and entertainment updates.)
Microsoft decided to integrate a new feature in Windows that might remind you of your browser history, and yet it's even more useful. A small icon called Task View on the task bar shows you more than just a virtual desktop view. You can now scroll back in time. Timeline shows what you were doing in Windows in the previous days, weeks and 30 days. You'll see you were editing an image in MS Paint, updating a Word doc and browsing NBA playoff scores. Timeline is searchable, and you can remove tasks you don't want in the view anymore.
2. Nearby Sharing
This new addition helps you share files with colleagues over Bluetooth. Nearby Sharing works exactly like Apple AirDrop in that you can search for contacts who are within range (say, the next office over). In Microsoft Edge, you can then share a link quickly, but the main idea is to share videos, documents and photos. Once you enable the feature in Settings (just search for "nearby sharing" and enable the Shared experiences option) you can right-click on any file and select Share). Nearby Sharing works only with contacts who have Windows 10.
3. Focus assistCredit: Windows
Staying focused while you work is becoming a major problem. There are already chimes and notifications on your phone to deal with, and Windows itself is becoming more and more intrusive. If you stash your phone, you can now disable notifications in Windows as well. Focus Assist is now a toggle in the Activity Center (lower right corner of the screen). Conveniently, in Settings, you can also enable rules for Focus Assist, such as disabling notifications during specific time periods or when you are playing a game.
4. New Microsoft Edge features
Along with the OS upgrades, Microsoft also tweaked Microsoft Edge (which is included in the April 2018 update). Many of the new features are meant to help with productivity. There's a new mute feature that lets you turn off the audio for any tab. For printing, there's a new clutter-free option that spares you most of of the options for print outs.
5. Find Microsoft Hello faster
Microsoft Hello is a useful security feature because it streamlines the security login process. You can login with you fingerprint, eye or face. The problem is that the options to configure Windows Hellp were buried in the Settings menu. Now, when you log in, you'll see an icon that takes you directly to the setup screen, which might help more users get more secure.
A powerful new addition, Dictation in Windows 10 actually works. In Word, for example, you can press Windows key + H to start dictating an entire document. The speech recognition is incredibly fluid, and you don't need to do any speech dictation training. It works for more than document writing, though. You can press Win + H to dictate a URL in Microsoft Edge, and to fill out a form. It works much better because of how integrated it is into the OS.
7. Single sign-on
One last perks in the April 2018 update has to do with single sign-ons. With the update, you can sign-in to Windows 10 once, which then also signs you into all Microsoft apps, like Word. This is mostly a timesaver do you don't have to keep signing in to all apps even though you've already verified your identity, although you can also disable the automated app sign-ins. [Need a single sign-on solution? Check out our recommendations and best picks.]