Editor's note: On March 28, 2019, Microsoft finally told business users that the October 2018 update is ready for a mass rollout. The update was introduced in October 2018, but had to be stopped while code issues were resolved that caused some users to lose their data. This news comes as the company is preparing to start a release of the Windows 10 April 2019 update, which is expected next month.
There's a much different vibe now behind a new version of Windows. Microsoft has shifted away from massive bundles that dramatically revamp the interface and come with too many features to wrap one's head around.
With the Windows-as-a-service model, Microsoft is showing how the October Windows 10 update can drop in some essential features that businesses will find useful, while making the update cycle more iterative.
Windows 10 still has considerable adoption in the business world, so here are a few specific features worth calling out for this latest update.
The Windows 10 timeline feature actually debuted in April, but as the most front-facing change, it's worth noting here. It's quite useful, giving a visual overview of your work history across both Windows and mobile devices.
When you press Alt + Windows or click the Task View button to the right of the search box, you'll be able to fire this up:The Windows 10 timeline can connect you to your workflow across devices. Credit: Microsoft
The full experience requires sticking close to apps that support this feature, such as Office, the Microsoft Edge browser and other third parties that have tapped into Microsoft's APIs. It's worth exploring, as it represents the most noticeable shift in how one uses Windows.
Ready to download another app? If you want to tie your Windows 10 device to your Android device or iPhone, you'll need to download it. It’s another method that Microsoft has developed to make the Windows and Office experience extend from the desktop to other devices you use.
Odds and ends
There are a number of smaller points to this update that are likely to be useful for business users. Given the new update model, many of these features can come more quickly, since there is no need to wait for a major annual upgrade.
Windows Defender Application Guard is useful for keeping machines better protected against external attacks. Additionally, Azure Active Directory and Active Directory users who use Windows Hello for Business can now use biometrics to authenticate a remote session.
The ever-popular business communication program Skype wants to be more conversational and breezy, so it now features more playful emojis and other design elements that make it feel closer to a consumer app. This may not be everyone's favorite update, but those who are part of a companywide Microsoft Teams rollout will probably get on better using that application for chatting.
Snipping screenshots and then inking them up with a Surface Pen or other stylus is quite useful for presentations when you want to focus on a particular subject or feature.Snipping screenshots and inking them up is another way Windows seeks to implement pen input into the workflow. Credit: Microsoft
The key is to spend time checking out the hidden features and adjustments that make Windows fairly customizable for individual workflows.
Lots of fixes
It wouldn't be a new Windows build (or any important software release, really) without a number of bug fixes. Microsoft delivers here, with key fixes to Bluetooth issues, display scaling and battery life.
Microsoft details the update process here, so you may need to take some action on your own if you don't want to wait for the update to roll out. But if you're happy to take your time, or just want to dive in deeper, Microsoft offers more details about the latest build, which includes a number of changes to Office that will interest those in the business world.