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Windows 10 introduced a number of new elements, including the option to use a touch-optimized interface (known as tablet mode) or a traditional desktop interface similar to that of Windows 7 along with live tiles from Windows 8. However, unlike previous versions of Windows, where most, if not all, major features for that release were completed by its RTM, Windows 10 continues to receive major features and changes beyond its initial release to market. Microsoft describes Windows 10 as an "operating system as a service" that will receive ongoing updates to its features and functionality. This is supplemented with the ability for enterprise environments to receive non-critical updates at a slower pace, and to use long-term support milestones that will only receive critical updates, such as security patches, over their ten-year lifespan of support.[1]

Version 1507

Windows 10, codenamed "Threshold 1", is the first release of Windows 10. It carries the build number 10.0.10240. While the build itself doesn't contain the version number, Microsoft retroactively named this version 1507,[2] standing for July 2015 and matching the versioning scheme for later updates. "Threshold 1" was announced on an event on September 30, 2014, with a first preview following the day after. The final release was made available to Windows Insiders on July 15, 2015, followed by a public release on July 29, 2015, as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

The Threshold 1 release of Windows 10 is only supported for users of the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB).[2]

New feature indicated for this release are only those added since Windows 8.1 Update 1, released in April 2014.

Bundled apps

The Mail app adds user-configurable swipe gesture controls and POP3 email support.[3] Google Calendar support is added to the Calendar app.[3] The Settings app is expanded to have similar functionality as the Control Panel, albeit with a Metro-style user interface.[3] The Map app can download maps for offline use.[4]

Microsoft Edge

Main article: Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is the new browser for Windows 10 and is the successor to Internet Explorer 11, although Internet Explorer will remain for compatibility and legacy purposes. Cortana has been integrated into Edge, accessible by the option "Ask Cortana" in the right click menu, as well as a Reading View and the ability to write notes directly on web pages and save to OneNote. A Reading List feature has also been added, where users can save articles or other content to be accessed and read later. Microsoft Edge also includes a Share button on its toolbar where tapping or clicking on it will bring up the system Share panel, where users will be able to share a webpage to installed applications such as Reading List or third-party apps such as Facebook and Twitter.[5][6][7] Since its release, Microsoft Edge has scored 402 out of 555 points on HTML5test.[8]

Development platform

Windows 10 introduced Universal Windows Platform (UWP), an extension of the Windows Runtime platform which was originally introduced with Windows 8. UWP emphasizes a core set of APIs common to all variations of the operating system, enabling the ability to code a single application with adaptations (such as user interface differences) for different device families and states, including desktops and laptops, tablets, smartphones (via Windows 10 Mobile), Xbox One, and other new device classes such as Surface Hub and HoloLens. An application may also react to the available displays and input on a device; when connected to a monitor or a suitable docking station, a UWP app on a smartphone can take on the appearance of the app on a PC. Information can also be synchronized between versions of an app for different devices, such as notifications and licensing.[9][10][11]

Gaming

DirectX 12

Windows 10 includes DirectX 12 alongside WDDM 2.0.[12][13] Unveiled March 2014 at GDC, DirectX 12 aims to provide "console-level efficiency" with "closer to the metal" access to hardware resources, and reduced CPU and graphics driver overhead.[14][15] Most of the performance improvements are achieved through low-level programming, which can reduce single-threaded CPU bottlenecking caused by abstraction through higher level APIs. The performance gains achieved by allowing developers direct access to GPU resources is similar to other low-level rendering initiatives such as AMD's Mantle, Apple's Metal API or the OpenGL successor, Vulkan.[16][17] WDDM 2.0 introduces a new virtual memory management and allocation system to reduce workload on the kernel-mode driver.[12][18]

Xbox One integration

Windows 10 brings more updates to the Xbox app introduced in Windows 8. Games from the Xbox One can be streamed to any Windows 10 device excluding smartphones.[19]

Game Bar and Game DVR

Windows 10 introduces the Game Bar, which provides screenshot and video capture functionality for Windows games. Users can invoke the game bar, record gameplay, or take a screenshot using the appropriate keyboard shortcuts. Windows 10 can also continuously capture gameplays in the background; this allows the user to request that the last few users defined moments of gameplay be saved to the hard disk. This is useful if a user wants to save and/or share a moment of gameplay but did not think to explicitly record it beforehand.[20]

The Game Bar was later upgraded into a larger overlay, which now features "widgets" windows for functionality such as the user's Xbox friends list, audio settings, and system performance information.[21]

Shell and user interface

Windows 10 also allows web apps and desktop software (using either Win32 or .NET Framework), to be packaged for distribution on Windows Store. Desktop software distributed through Windows Store is packaged using the App-V system to allow sandboxing. Web apps are executed from remote servers, and have access to Windows functions such as notifications and camera access. As with Windows 8, locally packaged web apps can be written using HTML and WinJS.[22][23]

Action Center

Main article: Action Center

What was once called "Action Center" in Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and their successor is now called Security and Maintenance. The title of "Action Center" in Windows 10 is usurped by a sidebar that provides a list of received notifications and a group of "Quick actions" buttons for different settings areas. It is accessed by clicking the Notifications icon in the system tray, or swiping from the right of the screen on touchscreens.[24][25][26]

Command line

Windows 10 brings improvements to the system's command-line interface. Unlike in previous versions of Windows NT, the Win32 console windows can now be resized without any restrictions. It can be made to cover the full screen by pressing the Alt+↵ Enter combination on keyboard. Microsoft also enabled the use of standard keyboard shortcuts, such as those for cut, copy, and paste, within the console. Word wrapping and keyboard shortcuts to move the caret, select and manipulate text have become available.[2] Other features such as word wrap and transparency were also included. The user has the option to disable the new features and return to the legacy console if they wish.[27]

Continuum

Continuum is the blanket title for a group of features on Windows 10 that are designed to enable smoother transitions between a default interface mode designed for use with a keyboard and mouse, and an interface designed for touchscreen environments, especially on hybrid devices such as laplets. Enabling "Tablet mode" switches the primary interface to a full screen version of the Start menu, and opens all applications in a maximized view by default. The taskbar is also modified, adding a Back button next to the Start button, and by default, hiding buttons for opened and pinned applications. Task View is used as the primary means of switching programs. Windows can prompt to switch between these two modes, or automatically do so, if certain events occur, such as plugging in a keyboard or mouse to a tablet, switching a laplet to its laptop state, or vice versa.[28][29][30][31]

Cortana

Main article: Cortana (software)

Windows 10 has brought the Cortana assistant from Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10. By default, Cortana appears as a search pane on the taskbar, but can be changed into a button, like in tablet mode, and can be activated by voice using the command "Hey Cortana", when a user searches the Start menu, or when a user searches the Cortana search pane. With Cortana, users can ask Cortana questions about the weather, calendar events, and other types of notifications, along with online information.[32] Cortana currently requires a Microsoft Account to function.

Start Menu

Windows 10 reintroduced the start menu as seen in versions of Windows prior to 8. However, unlike these versions, the new start menu includes live tile features from Windows 8. It is possible to resize the Start menu and view recently added and most used applications. It can also be made full screen for tablet users or users that prefer a Windows 8-like experience.[33] The right hand side of the Start menu can be used to pin tiles. The menu can contain a limited amount of columns, depending on the screen resolution. These columns can be divided in groups that can all have their own title. Every group is divided into 6 or 8 other columns, depending on the user's settings, to allow either six or eight small sized tiles next to each other.

Task View

Main article: Task View

Task View is a task switching and virtual desktop system, accessible via the taskbar button, keyboard shortcut Windows+Tab ↹, or swiping from the left of a touchscreen.[34][35] Activating Task View shows a zoomed display of all windows currently opened on a specific monitor; clicking on a window switches to it. Task View can also be displayed when a window is snapped to half the screen or three windows are snapped to fourths of the screen, prompting for a window to occupy the remainder of the screen. Task View also allows the creation of virtual workspaces; windows can be dragged into and out of these workspaces.[36]

System Settings

The modern Settings app from Windows 8 continues to evolve in Windows 10, incorporating more system setting configuration functionality from the Windows Control Panel. The ultimate goal is to make the Settings app feature complete, obviating the need for the Control Panel.[37][38]

The Push-button reset function has been changed to utilize files from the current Windows installation to rebuild the system rather than a separate recovery image. System updates carry over into the new installation and do not have to be re-downloaded.[39] The separate "Refresh" option is removed; users are now given explicit choices within the Reset process to remove all personal files and applications, keep personal files but remove applications, or perform a full factory reset.[40]

Security

MAC Address Randomization in WiFi has been introduced to try to prevent third parties from using the MAC address to track devices.[41]

Windows Hello

Windows Hello is a feature on Windows 10 that allows users to unlock the device with a user's fingerprint, iris scan, or face. It is an alternate option for signing in.[42][43] There are two ways to unlock the device.

Recognition

This feature uses IR camera to scan the user's face, similar to Apple's Face ID, users can unlock the computer with it. Although an external IR camera can be used, computer manufacturers today are integrating IR cameras.[43] Touch recognition allow users to touch a button on the computer.

Version 1511 (November Update)

Windows November 10 Update, or Windows 10 Version 1511, codenamed "Threshold 2", is the first major update to Windows 10. It carries the build number 10.0.10586 and version 1511, referencing its date of release, November 2015. The first preview was released on August 18, 2015. The final release was made available to Windows Insiders on November 3, 2015, followed by a public release on November 12, 2015, to existing Windows 10 users, and as a free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Unlike the initial release of Windows, this branch was also made available to existing Windows Phone 8.1-devices and the Xbox One and as a preview release to Windows Server 2016, and was pre-installed on new Windows 10 Mobile-devices like the Microsoft Lumia 950.

The Threshold 2 release of Windows 10 is supported for users of the Current Branch for Businesses (CBB)

The changes below highlight features new since the "Threshold 1" release of Windows 10.

Bundled Apps

Microsoft Edge

Miscellaneous

Shell and user interface

Cortana

Desktop

Start menu

Tablet mode

System settings

Version 1607 (Anniversary Update)

Windows 10 Anniversary Update, or Windows 10 Version 1607, codenamed "Redstone 1",[62][63][64] is the second major update to Windows 10 and the first of the 2 major updates that were given the "Redstone" codename.[64][65] It was released on July 29, 2016.

Bundled apps

Microsoft Edge

Development platform

Universal Windows Platform apps can now support extensions, allowing for add-ons and DLCs for such apps and games, respectively. Furthermore, these add-ons can be managed from the Windows Settings app.[71]

Windows Subsystem for Linux

The anniversary update for Windows 10 adds Windows Subsystem for Linux. This allows the Ubuntu user space to run natively on Windows. The subsystem translate Linux system call that Ubuntu uses to those of Windows NT kernel. This allows the Bash and other Ubuntu command line apps to run within the Windows console. There is, however, the interoperability restriction: Bash cannot run Windows apps and Windows cannot run Linux software.[72][73][74][75][76]

Project Centennial

Project Centennial allows Win32 and .NET apps to be repackaged with APPX and allow them to use the full set of Windows Runtime APIs. This will also allow these apps be distributed through the Windows Store.[77]

Action Center

Desktop

Command line

Cortana

Lock screen

Start menu

Tablet mode

Windows Ink Workspace

A new workspace environment for pen users. It includes virtual sticky notes on which a pen could be used to take notes. Sticky notes features optical character recognition (OCR) to highlight relevant text that can be used by Cortana. The workspace also includes a sketchpad, ability to take a screenshot and draw on it, and a virtual ruler.[79][80]

System settings

Miscellaneous

Version 1703 (Creators Update)

Windows 10 Creators Update, or Windows 10 Version 1703, codenamed "Redstone 2", is a feature update to Windows 10 released on April 11, 2017. The first preview for this release was seeded out to Windows Insiders on August 11, 2016.

The Redstone 2 release of Windows 10 is currently in the development branch and available for Windows Insiders.

The changes below highlights features new since the Redstone 1 release.

Bundled apps

Microsoft Edge

Miscellaneous

Shell and user interface

System Settings

Version 1803 (April 2018 Update)

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. (June 2018)

Windows April 10, 2018, Update, or Windows 10 version 1803, is the fifth feature update to Windows 10.[92]

Deployment

Configuration

Accessibility and Privacy

Security

Windows Analytics

Settings

Version 1809 (October 2018 Update)

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2018)

Windows October 10, 2018, Update, or Windows 10 version 1809, is the sixth feature update to Windows 10.[94]

Version 1903 (May 2019 Update)

Windows May 10, 2019, Update, or Windows 10 version 1903, is the seventh feature update to Windows 10.

Version 2004 (May 2020 Update)

New keyboard shortcuts

Key combination Function
⊞ Win+Ctrl+ and ⊞ Win+Ctrl+ Switch between virtual desktops
⊞ Win+Ctrl+D Create a new virtual desktop
⊞ Win+Ctrl+F4 Close this virtual desktop (unless it is the last desktop standing)
⊞ Win+Tab ↹ See all desktops and open apps via the Task View page
⊞ Win+Q Invoke Cortana for voice input
⊞ Win+W Open Windows whiteboard
⊞ Win+S Invoke Cortana for typed input
⊞ Win+A Invoke the Action Center
⊞ Win+X Invoke Quick Links menu
⊞ Win+I Invoke Settings app
⊞ Win+G Open the Game Bar, a component of the Xbox Console Companion app
⊞ Win+. Open the emoji selector

See also

References

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