In a pattern that should be becoming familiar to those of us using Windows 10, it's almost time for the first of the two big "feature" releases of the year. Feature releases differ from the more regular updates in that they introduce new features into the operating system rather than general security fixes and optimisations. So what's new this time?
Share files wirelessly with Near Share
The "Near Share" feature looks like it may be the most useful of the new batch of changes. This will see a new "Share" button added to many apps that will allow you to instantly share a file with devices within wireless range that also have the feature enabled. For instance, if you have a web page open in Edge, you can click the "Share" button to share this with all the machines around you so that they can open the same page.
Further improvements to Microsoft Edge
Edge is the web browser that Microsoft added to Windows 10 as a replacement to Internet Explorer. It's the browser that WIndows 10 uses by default, so many people will be using it without even realising it. This forthcoming update introduces some new features, including the ability to auto-fill forms using details you use frequently like your address. You will be able to right click on a tab and mute it so that whatever is running on that tab stops making noise. They've also redesigned the history / bookmarks / favourites area into a single hub.
"Quiet Hours" becomes "Focus Assist"
Windows 10 already has a "Quiet Hours" feature that allows you to set times that you don't want to be bugged with any notifications. This has now been renamed to "Focus Assist". You can select what sort of notifications you're happy to see at various times. For example, it's possible to set it to only show you high priority updates during working hours.
New "Timeline" view
This new feature displays a list of all activities you've performed recently on your machine and allows you to scroll back through them to resume that activity. For example, if you were working on an Excel document a couple of days ago, you can open up the timeline, scroll back a couple of days, then click the listing for this to continue working on it. If you use the same Microsoft account on more than one device, this feature can also sync between these devices so you resume something on one device that you started on another.
There's a whole host of other features coming in this update - too many to list them all here. Here's a few of the others that will be included:
- Diagnostic Data Viewer: For those worried about what data your device is sending back to Microsoft, this viewer lets you see exactly what is being transmitted from your machine.
- Display scaling: There will be a new "Fix Scaling for apps" to try and improve the look of old apps for those using 4k monitors.
- Password recovery on local accounts: This feature allows you to set up security questions on your machine that you can answer if you forget your machine password.
- Disk Cleanup moved into Storage Settings: The simple one-click disk cleanup process has been moved to Settings > System > Storage > Free up space now. This feature, as you may expect, allows you instruct Windows to remove files that are probably unneccesary to free up some space on your hard drive.