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Microsoft's Windows 10 October 2018 Update reviewed


A grab bag of tweaks and polish

Incredibly, five months have passed us by since the last major update of Windows 10 was released. The April update had a lot of potential, but it wasn't obvious if all the improvements would pay off as Microsoft desired. We've had a bit of time with that update's features, though, and their usefulness is becoming clearer. Now, it's time for you all to gather round and hear the thoughts of the King of the TR sweatshop regarding the shiny new Windows 10 features in the officially named "Windows 10 October 2018 Update."

This quietly released build is numbered Windows 10 version 1809, for those interested. The update contains some significant changes to the core user experience as well as smaller features which improve the operating system in subtle ways. It's actually quite a substantial update, and we're going to cover the most important items. Without further ado, let the dissertation begin!

Explorer

One of the first things you'll likely notice is that dark themes have continued their conquest of computing, and Windows Explorer is now sporting a stylish shadowy theme. It looks good and will be automatically applied based on your system settings for light or dark themes. It's the same Explorer you know and love, but darker! The long- rumored UWP Explorer is still MIA, though.


I need more hard drive space. Or fewer games.

Before any of you decide to throw down in the comments, yes, like most small children, I quite like flashy colors; I admit it. Unfortunately, the desktop OneDrive app currently doesn't have a dark theme, and apparently one isn't planned. macOS will be getting OneDrive with Batman styling, however. If you desire night-time consistency, Macs, not Windows PCs, will be providing it for the foreseeable future.

Snipping tool

The screen-capturing Snipping Tool will be going away at some point in the near future. There's now a new "Snip and Sketch" app meant to replace it, as well as an entirely new Windows UI for taking screenshots. Snip and Sketch is a hybrid capture and inking application. You can take your screenshots and edit them within the application, as opposed to opening them in Paint or whichever other application you use.


I've loved TR ever since I co-founded it. Ahem.

The UI design is very similar to Paint 3D's, though it's more useful for annotations than creating art. Don't expect any super-fancy editing features here. You can also set your keyboard's Print-Screen button to bring up the Snip and Sketch app with just a toggle in Settings. This new screen-capturing process is excellent. It was significantly faster to gather the screenshots for this piece than it has been the past. You did well with this new feature, Microsoft.

Game bar

Game bar has been updated again and now includes a far superior UI that includes controls for selecting specific audio settings for different applications. You might recall I wasn't a fan of the prior design, and thankfully the annoying notification advertising the feature is gone. The Game Bar is now accessible in the Start menu as an app, too.


Stylish and useful features! Currently lacking the promised performance graphs though.

In an earlier build, the Game Bar temporarily included a handy Performance section with RAM, GPU, CPU, and FPS data. Therein resided a "Dedicate Resources" toggle that would reduce unnecessary background system activity and give resource priority to a running game. However, Microsoft pulled this feature back after a period of testing. Despite that omission, I think the changes to the Game Bar are positive, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the Microsoft engineers do with it.