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By Abhay V
Here's how you can install the Windows 10 October 2020 Update right now
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft began rolling out the Windows 10 October 2020 Update this week, bringing a few new features such as a refreshed Start Menu design that is now theme-aware, improvements to the notifications interface, Alt+Tab multitasking enhancements for the Edge browser, and more. You can read through the complete list of features here.
The update is not a major one since the features are already baked into the May 2020 Update (version 2004). The 20H2 release, just like version 1909, is an enablement package that lights up the hidden features in the OS – which installs just like a monthly cumulative update – unless you are upgrading from a release older than version 2004. However, as is the case with recent releases, Microsoft is performing a staggered rollout of the update, so not all users will receive the update immediately.
If you want to check if the update is being offered to you, or install it regardless if it isn’t, here are some ways you can go about downloading and installing the October 2020 Update.
Through Windows Update
The way most users update their PCs is through Windows Update. Unlike older versions, feature updates are no longer force installed until the currently installed version reaches the end of support. To check if the October 2020 Update is ready to be installed through Windows Update, perform the following steps:
Head to Settings (via the Start Menu or the Win + I shortcut) Click on Update & Security Click on Windows Update Click on Check for Updates If the feature update is available to install, a card with a Download and install now prompt will be available (example screenshot below) For users running version 2004, the update package will be a quick download. However, those on older versions of the OS will go through the full-fledged download and install process that will take much longer. Since Microsoft is gradually rolling out version 20H2, not many people will see the update show up right away, including those running the May 2020 Update – even though the two versions are technically the same.
Users upgrading from older versions could be blocked from being served the update owing to incompatibilities such as driver version conflicts or more. The known issues and update blockers are documented here. These users will be prompted for an upgrade when their devices are “ready”.
For those that do not see a prompt in Windows Update, there are a couple of other options to install version 20H2. However, it must be noted that forcing an update through these methods could cause problems due to incompatible drivers, so it is advised that you go ahead with these methods only if you are aware of the risks and are familiar with rolling back feature updates, in case something goes wrong. It is always a good idea to perform a backup of your data as well.
Using the Update Assistant
The Update Assistant allows users to perform an in-place feature update through a wizard. It must be noted, however, that the tool downloads the entire OS package regardless of what version you are on. So even if you are upgrading from the May 2020 Update, the tool will perform the complete installation process instead of applying the enablement package.
The tool also checks for major compatibility issues and can block the user from updating to the latest version of Windows 10 if there are any major issues. You can head to the download page here and click on the Update Now button to download the Update Assistant. Then, perform the following steps to initiate the update:
Download and open the Update Assistant and hit Update Now Though the company updated the naming convention for the version number starting with this release, the tool specifies a certain "version 2009", which is nothing but the October 2020 Update (20H2) Hit Next if the tool certifies your PC as compatible Let the tool complete the download and initialization process for the update The tool will then prompt for a restart Unlike Windows Update, it is possible that dismissing the restart prompt could immediately trigger a restart and the wizard might not obey your pre-set active hours. It is best for you to keep an eye on the progress and save all your work beforehand. The system will then restart multiple times and then boot into version 20H2.
Using the Media Creation tool
Users that are upgrading from older versions of Windows 10 or those who want to perform a clean installation can also use the media creation tool. You can head to the download page here and click the Download tool now button under the Create Windows 10 installation media section. The tool lets users perform an in-place update for their own system or create bootable media for use on other PCs or virtual machines. The installation media can also be used as a means to install Windows 10 on new, custom-built machines or bricked devices.
For this guide, we will cover the steps needed to be performed to initiate an in-place upgrade for users’ own machines. Here are the steps to be performed:
Download and open the Media Creation tool Accept the license terms If you want to upgrade your PC, choose the Upgrade this PC now option Let the tool download and run the update process Follow further instructions to restart the system Just like with the Update Assistant, the system should go through a series of restarts for the update to be installed. If you want to create an installation media for backup purposes or creating a bootable disc for another PC, here is how you do it:
Under the What do you want to do? step, choose the Create installation media… option Either use the recommended option or select the desired language, edition, and architecture Choose the kind of media you want to create Do note that a USB flash drive must be 8GB in capacity or larger. You can save the ISO file locally if you wish to use it to set up Windows 10 on a virtual machine.
If you are not offered the update via Windows Update and are facing hiccups with getting through the compatibility checks in either of the tools, it is best to give it some time. The Redmond company constantly serves cumulative updates to fix bugs and remove update blocks and will offer the update to compatible devices when it deems the configuration ready.
Minecraft Java Edition will soon require a Microsoft account
by João Carrasqueira
The original release of Minecraft, now called Minecraft: Java Edition, is soon going to require a Microsoft account to play. The announcement was made on the Minecraft blog, and it means that existing players will start to be moved to Microsoft accounts next year. The move will be mandatory, so you won't be able to play the game if you don't switch to the new account.
To justify the decision to move its player base, Minecraft developer Mojang said that Microsoft accounts offer a range of benefits compared to a regular account. These include additional security thanks to two-factor authentication, linking different games in the Minecraft universe to the same account, improved parental controls, and the ability to block chat messages and invitations.
Aside from using a Microsoft account, there won't be any big changes with the transition. Existing skins and mods will continue to work, and users get to keep their current username. In fact, Microsoft is giving players a small reward for going through the process - a special cape for your character. The company is also teasing that more rewards may be revealed later. You can learn more about the transition in this FAQ.
For new players, the Microsoft account requirement will come into place this fall, meaning you'll need one to create a new account. Because there are a lot of players on the Java Edition of Minecraft (in 2019, the company reported that 30 million copies of the game had been sold), existing players will be moved in batches starting next year. Users will receive emails with instructions on how to make the move when their turn comes.
Here's what's fixed, improved, and still broken in Windows 10 build 20241
by João Carrasqueira
As per Microsoft's Wednesday tradition, a new build of Windows 10 is rolling out Insiders in the Dev channel today, this time being build number 20241. As usual, the list of new features is small, but there are some visual changes and improvements to the Settings app.
However, the build also comes with the usual lists of improvements, fixes, and known issues, which might be useful to know before you rush to install it. Starting with the improvements, there are some for Narrator and the Japanese IME:
As for the fixes in this release, there's a pretty long list to take a look at:
Finally, there are still some known issues:
If you're not in the Insider program, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 feature update, version 20H2, just yesterday, and we've rounded up all the new features in it. There are also some known issues for it, but nothing new if you were already using Windows 10 version 2004. It'll likely be a few months before the features in these new Insider builds make their way to the general public.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 20241 to the Dev channel with theme-aware splash screens
by Rich Woods
It's Wednesday at 10am PT, and that can only mean one thing. There's a new Windows 10 Insider Preview build in the Dev channel. This week's build is 20241, and as usual, not much has changed, although there are a few things.
The Dev channel gets weekly builds from the rs_prerelease branch, so it's in a perpetual state of prerelease and it's not tied to a feature update. At some point, features get promoted to the Beta channel, which is actually a preview for the next feature update. Unfortunately, no one actually knows what the next feature update is, and Microsoft isn't talking about it. The most recent update, 20H2, was released this week, and 21H1 might be canceled entirely in favor of a Windows 10X release.
As for what's new in this build, we're now seeing theme-aware splash screens, so you'll see light and dark splash screens instead of accent-colored ones. Here's the full changelog:
It's unclear why only that small subset of apps supports the theme-aware splash screen, rather than anything with a transparent splash screen.
As always, you can grab today's build via Windows Update. If you're not on the Dev channel yet, you can enroll through the Windows Insider Program tab in Settings.
By Rich Woods
Acer TravelMate Spin P4 hands-on review: Intel Tiger Lake is here
by Rich Woods
About two weeks ago, Acer sent me its TravelMate Spin P4 for a sort of "hands on review", or that's what I'm calling it. The PC is being announced today at its next@acer event, and Acer was kind enough to send me a pre-production unit. The rules are that I can't run any benchmarks, or speculate what benchmark scores might be, so the format of this review will be slightly different from what you're used to.
Not running benchmarks was hard too, because the TravelMate Spin P4 is the first PC I've used that has Intel's 11th-generation 'Tiger Lake' processors. Tiger Lake is Intel's second generation that uses a 10nm process, and it has some seriously improved graphics power called Iris Xe. On top of that, it has support for Thunderbolt 4 and faster memory.
But even aside from that, the TravelMate Spin P4 is a pretty cool business laptop. It's got a built-in pen, an IR camera for Windows Hello, and most importantly, optional 4G LTE.
CPU Intel Core i7-1165G7 Graphics Intel Iris Xe Display 14” FHD IPS SlimBezel Touch Panel w/AES Body 12.7x9.2x0.7in, 3.3lbs Ports (2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) Thunderbolt 4
(1) 3.5mm audio
(1) nano-SIM Storage 1TB, PCIe Gen3 8 Gb/s up to 4 lanes, NVMe RAM 32GB DDR4 Battery 56Wh, up to 13.5 hours Connectivity 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 OS Windows 10 Pro Color Slate Blue Price Starts at $999
To be clear, these are the specs of the unit that Acer sent me, and since this product wasn't announced yet, I haven't been able to get pricing on this configuration. The base model comes with a Core i3-1115G4 CPU, 128GB of storage, and 8GB RAM.
The color of this PC is called Slate Blue, and it's a pretty subtle shade of blue. At first glance, you might even think it's more of a gunmetal color. Personally, I like it. It's a nice way to add a bit of color to a business laptop, which typically wouldn't have any color at all.
As usual, it has the silver Acer badge embossed in the corner. This isn't uncommon for a TravelMate, whereas one of Acer's consumer PCs might have the Acer logo right in the middle of the lid.
Zero ports were harmed in making this convertible just 0.7 inches thick. On the left side, you'll notice that there's a full-size Ethernet port, which has a drop-jaw hinge. You'll also find HDMI, two USB Type-A ports, and a Thunderbolt 4 port.
Yes, that's a pin charger all the way to the left, and that's the kind of charger that it ships with. Of course, you can also charge through the USB Type-C port, so you have the choice. If your business is standardized on Acer chargers, you can use those. If you want to use a newer USB Type-C cable, you can do that too.
That Thunderbolt 4 port can also power up to two 4K monitors off of a single port, or you can use it to connect an external GPU. The minimum spec for Thunderbolt 4 was actually what some Thunderbolt 3 ports were capable of, but now it's standard, and it's pretty awesome.
On the right side, there are even more goodies. This is where you'll find the power button, which doubles as a one-touch fingerprint sensor. Yes, that means that you get the seamless log-in experience that comes when the PC reads your fingerprint before it boots up. There's also a nano-SIM card slot, because this PC does absolutely come with 4G LTE. That means that you don't have to worry about connecting to public Wi-Fi and the security implications, the hassle of using your phone as a hot spot, or asking your buddy for a Wi-Fi password. Also on that side are a microSD expansion slot and a 3.5mm audio jack.
That's also where you'll find the pen garage, an elegant solution for pen storage. That means that the AES pen is always charged when you need it, and it's always with you. Some companies like to use a magnetic attachment, but that can fall off in your bag. Some make you use AAAA batteries, but then you have to deal with it potentially not being charged when you do to use it.
To me, the pen garage is the best solution because it's always with you, always charged, and it doesn't get in the way. Of course, that means that you get a smaller pen, but the good news is that it's Wacom AES; there are plenty of options out there if you want to grab a third-party pen.
My only complaint about the design is that I wish it was a bit lighter. I've used so many Acer PCs that are made out of a magnesium alloy, and this one is aluminum, which is much heavier. It comes in at 3.3 pounds, and I feel like if it was magnesium, it could have been close to or under three pounds.
Display and audio
The TravelMate P4 comes with a 14-inch FHD display, and there's not much to say about it. I don't have a very detailed spec sheet, so I'm missing things like promised brightness. I didn't have any issues with outdoor usage though, although I did have to keep brightness at close to 75% instead of my usual 50% for indoor use.
The screen does seem to have a solid 160-degree viewing angle, letting you view it from any angle without any visible color distortions. And the colors in general seem to be accurate, speaking purely anecdotally.
Of course, there's pen support, which is great for use as a tablet. You can use it to take handwritten notes, write on photos, draw routes in Maps, and so on.
It has narrow bezels on the sides, although the top and bottom bezels are quite large. The top one has an IR camera and a webcam, along with a privacy shutter that can block the webcam. Obviously, having Windows Hello facial recognition is a plus. The bottom bezel just feels unnecessarily large, although perhaps that's due to the speaker placement above the keyboard.
Those speakers actually sound quite good, and that's a stark contrast to my previous experience with Acer laptops. Not only is it loud, but it's clear. I've used so many Acer laptops, especially commercial ones, where it sounds super-tinny. That's not the case here and I'm really pleased to say it.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is backlit, and it's solid, but it's also nothing to write home about. It's not that this keyboard is bad in any way at all, but that companies like HP and Lenovo are doing frankly amazing things with keyboards in their business laptops.
This one definitely feels good though. The keys are sturdy, accurate, and comfortable with proper resistance. They're not particularly quiet, something that I look for in a premium keyboard.
As you'd expect, it has a clickable Microsoft Precision trackpad, meaning that it's fast, responsive, and supports all of the gestures that you're used to. I do wish it was a bit bigger though. There's something about it when there's a lot of space around the trackpad where I wonder why the company didn't make more use of the available real estate. After all, the display does have a huge chin and a large top bezel, giving it a larger footprint. Either way, it's a very minor complaint.
As I mentioned right from the beginning, I couldn't run benchmarks on here, and I can't even speculate what benchmark scores would be. All I can tell you is what my experience was like, and I have to say, it was pretty great. This machine has an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor and 32GB of RAM, so it's legit.
Intel's Tiger Lake processors bring things to a new level. Last year's Ice Lake was a massive improvement with Iris Plus Graphics, and now with Iris Xe, it's really interesting. I call it interesting because it makes this machine particularly versatile.
You can play games on here, albeit not with top-end settings, and you can edit FHD video on here without issue. At the same time, this is a productivity machine, which can also be used as a tablet. The use cases for this PC seem to be endless, thanks to how good Intel's U-series processors are getting.
I won't get too deep into performance because not only am I not allowed to run benchmarks, but it would also be irresponsible. This is a pre-production unit, and your mileage will definitely vary from mine. I'm also not going to talk about battery life, because that wouldn't be fair either.
The Acer TravelMate Spin P4 is a fantastic PC, and I hope I get to spend more time with it when production units are available. It's almost a cliche to say this, but it just checks the right boxes.
For one thing, Acer is putting 4G LTE in these things, and that's awesome. This is 2020, and everything should easily connect to the Internet. I give the company a lot of credit for including LTE in all three of the TravelMates that it announced today.
I do wish it was a bit lighter, and I'd love to see this exact same PC but made out of a magnesium alloy. Also, I'd like that dream machine to have a larger trackpad.
But then of course, Intel's Tiger Lake processors are great, but fitting them into a form factor like this just makes it a winner. The pen garage makes pen storage optimal, so it's always with you, always charged, and doesn't get in your way, so tablet mode is a breeze. And at the same time, I spent some time playing Halo: The Master Chief Collection. This is just an incredibly versatile machine.
The Acer TravelMate P4 is set to arrive in North America in December, and it's coming to EMEA in November.