Software

Windows 10's new features: A fancier Start menu, pinned websites and easier Linux access

Microsoft yesterday unveiled a crop of changes headed to its flagship OS as part of the Fall Creators Update.

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The new look Action Center.

Image: Microsoft

New features are always around the corner in Windows 10, and Microsoft yesterday unveiled a crop of changes headed to its flagship OS.

These Windows 10 updates will be released to the general public in October, as part of the Fall Creators Update. However these tweaks are already available to those testing the OS as part of the Windows Insider Program, here's what's in store.

1. New look for Start menu and Action Center

Microsoft is giving the Start menu and Action Center a lick of paint, overhauling the UI to include elements of its recently announced Fluent Design System.

Changes to the Start menu include applying the blurred acrylic effect to menus where transparency is enabled, diagonal resizing, easier vertical and horizontal resizing, and a smoother transition to tablet mode.

The Action Center has been redesigned, as seen above, in an attempt to more clearly separate information and to allow notifications to be arranged by hierarchy. The acrylic effect is also applied to toast notifications in the Action Center.

2. Pin websites from Microsoft Edge

Those browsing the web using Microsoft Edge will be able to pin websites to the taskbar. Users will also be able to select fullscreen mode in Edge using F11.

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Image: Microsoft

3. Annotate books in Microsoft Edge

Users who read EPUB books using Microsoft Edge will be able to annotate text, highlight in four colors, underline, and add notes.

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Image: Microsoft

4. Cortana spots useful information in images

Microsoft's virtual assistant Cortana will be able to extract useful information from text in images, for instance setting a calendar reminder for a film screening based on a movie poster. Users will also be able to use a digital pen to circle text of interest in an image and have Cortana extract and interpret what to do with it, as shown below.

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Image: Microsoft

5. Do more with digital pens

Microsoft has broadened Windows 10's built-in support for writing on a screen using a digital pen.

The new handwriting panel will provide easier editing and support more gestures, emojis and symbols.

New features include the ability to write as much as you want in the panel, with words converted to typed text as they are written on screen. When using the handwriting panel, text shown elsewhere on screen can also be selected on screen to edit it within the panel.

Users will also be able to scroll the screen by swiping the pen across the display, as they would their finger, although only in Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and, at a later date, in Microsoft Edge.

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Image: Microsoft

6. A better touchscreen keyboard

The new touchscreen keyboard on Windows 10 desktop includes improved text prediction—with support for autocompleting phrases based on a single word— and the ability to transform single words into emojis in UWP apps. An alternative keyboard layout for one-handed typing will also be available.

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Image: Microsoft

7. Automatically find your photos, videos and music

Windows 10 storage scan will, if you allow it, be able to automatically detect media, pictures, songs and videos wherever they are on your drive, and will make these available to relevant apps, including Photos, Groove Music and Movies & TV apps.

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Image: Microsoft

8. New options for watching movies

Video playback will be able to configured to maximize battery usage or video quality.

There is also a new settings page related to High Dynamic Range within the Display settings, for those using HDR screens.

9. Simpler to choose your favorite apps

Fed up of movies opening in the wrong player? Windows 10 will make it easier for users to choose which file types are opened by each app, via a new page in the Apps section of Settings menu.

10. Easier access to Linux operating systems

Running the Bash shell on different Linux operating systems within Windows has been simplified, as using Windows Subsystem for Linux no longer requires Developer Mode to be enabled.

Read more on Windows 10...

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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