Software

The Windows 10 November Update: A look at the smaller details

The recent Windows 10 Update brought some enterprise-friendly improvements, but it included some more subtle changes as well.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/CreativaImages

On November 12, Microsoft released a substantial update to the Windows 10 operating system. In the recent past, an update of this magnitude would have been called a Service Pack and might still be in the works. However, thanks to Microsoft's new online release system, waiting extended periods of time for major releases is a thing of the past. In a mere 106 days, we went from the initial release to a major update.

On the date of the update release, Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, wrote a Windows Experience Blog post (First Major Update for Windows 10 Available Today), which started with this introduction:

Today, we reach our next milestone as the first major update to Windows 10 is now available for PCs and tablets. With this update, there are improvements in all aspects of the platform and experience, including thousands of partners updating their device drivers and applications for great Windows 10 compatibility. Windows 10 also starts rolling out to Xbox One today and select mobile phones soon.

But most importantly, with this free update we have reached the point in the platform's maturity where we can confidently recommend Windows 10 deployment to whole organizations.

He goes on to provide a high level overview of some of the new features in the update, particularly those aimed at the enterprise. TechRepublic's Nick Heath delved into these enterprise features in his article Massive Windows 10 update could turbo charge Windows 7 machines says Microsoft.

Since the November Update was released, I've been poking around some of the smaller details in the operating system and have found quite a few things that while not earth shattering, are interesting nonetheless. In this article, I'll show you some of the changes and new features I've found in the November Update.

Note: In this article, you'll notice that the sizes of screen shots comparing the two versions are slightly different. This is due to a difference is screen resolution between the two example systems.

Version identification

In the original release of Windows 10, the version is identified as Version 10.0 (Build 10240). However, in the November Update, the version is identified as Version 1511 (OS Build 10586.3), Figure A shows the About Windows dialog boxes for both versions. To access the About Windows dialog box, press [Windows]+R to open the Run dialog box, type winver in the Open text box, and click OK.

Figure A

Figure A

The About Windows dialog box shows the version numbers for Windows 10.

Colored title bars

This new feature is probably the most obvious one, and it relates to something I touched on it back in August. In the original release of Windows 10, the title bars of all windows were white and there was no built-in setting for changing their color. Figure B shows the Colors tab for both versions of Windows 10. As you can see, the color you pick now applies to title bars as well as Start, Taskbar, and Action Center. If you refer back to Figure A, you can see a colored titled bar - I have selected a shade of blue for the Show Color On Start, Taskbar, Action Center, And Title Bar setting.

Figure B

Figure B

You can now add color to the title bars in Windows 10.

Context menus

Microsoft has done some work on the context menus, as well. This is apparent on the one you see when you right-click on a tile on the Start menu. The context menu is now more succinct and uses submenus to better distribute the commands (Figure C). The items on the Resize menu are also accompanied by icons that represent their function.

Figure C

Figure C

The context menu on the Start menu is now more succinct.

The context menus of applications on the Start menu now provide Jump Lists, as shown in Figure D, to allow you to more quickly access documents you have recently opened with that application.

Figure D

Figure D

Jump Lists now appear on the context menus of application tiles on the Start menu.

Snap enhancements

When Windows 10 launched, there were all sorts of enhancements to the Snap feature, as I described in the article How to juggle multiple applications using Task View in Windows 10. However, one feature that slipped out of the Snap picture has now reappeared. Under Windows 8.1, when you had two Windows Store apps snapped side by side on the screen, resizing one app window by dragging the middle edge to the left or right would automatically resize the other app window. In other words, if you made one window larger, the other would shrink.

But when Windows 10 launched, that feature was missing.

In the November Update, the automatic resizing feature is back—and it has a setting that lets you turn it on or off. (It's enabled by default.) The new setting appears on the Multitasking tab of the Settings > System page, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Figure E

You'll find the new Snap setting on the Multitasking tab.

While this is more of a fix, another item really is a new feature. When you're using Windows 10 in Tablet mode and you access the Task view, you can now snap any window right from Task view just by clicking and dragging the window to either side of the screen.

Icon changes

During the early phases of Windows 10 development, there was a lot of talk about icons, as they transitioned from the more realistic looking 3D icons to the flat styled icons. Microsoft eventually compromised and dropped the extremely flat icons in favor of a middle-of-the-road design.

You'll notice that a few of the icons in the Control Panel and Device Manager have changed, but I don't think that these changes had anything to do with the icons themselves. In other words, I don't think Microsoft changed these icons just for the sake of changing their appearance.

My guess is that the icon changes we see in the November Update indicate that some kind of work was done under the hood on the associated items and that while the developers were there, they changed the icons. Some of this internal work is easy to identify because of the results, but the others I'm not sure of yet. (If after reading this section, you have ideas, let us know.)

For example, the Appearance And Personalization icon in the Control Panel's Category view is new, which could correspond to the changes that allow colored title bars. As you can see in Figure F, the new Appearance And Personalization icon is more in tune with the other Windows 10 icons.

Figure F

Figure F

The new Appearance And Personalization icon is similar to the other Windows 10 icons.

The following icons in Device Manager have also been changed in the new version, as shown in Figure G:

  • Device Manager
  • Display Adapters
  • Keyboards
  • Mice And Other Pointing Devices
  • Monitors
  • Network Adapters
  • Software Devices
  • Storage Controllers
  • System Device

Figure G

Figure G

There are several new icons in Device Manager.

What's your take?

Have you noticed small changes in the Windows 10 November Update? Share your observations and opinions in the discussion thread below.

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About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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