Recently Browsing 0 members
No registered users viewing this page.
Windows 10 version 20H2 is coming - here's what you need to know
by João Carrasqueira
For the past few months, Microsoft has been working on the next feature update for Windows 10, the one to follow up the May 2020 Update. We’ve covered the changes in every Windows 10 feature update since the May 2019 Update, so of course we're also going to go over the next one. But before we do, if you missed any of the previous updates, you can use these links to check the additions from the past few releases:
Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903) Windows 10 November 2019 Update (version 1909) Windows 10 May 2020 Update (version 2004) Moving on to the next update, Microsoft is changing the way it designates new versions of Windows 10, so instead of being version 2009 or 2010, Microsoft is calling it version 20H2, with a more friendly name being October 2020 Update. Instead of indicating the month the update was finalized in, the version now just indicates whether the update was released in the first or second half of the year. This should help alleviate some questions users have had, since the month indicated in the version number was almost always different from the month used in the friendly name.
Windows 10 version 20H2 is a relatively small feature update, just like version 1909 was last year. If you’re running version 2004, this update will simply be an enablement package, essentially turning some features that are already baked into version 2004, but turned off. Because of that, users on version 20H2 will get all the same monthly cumulative updates as version 2004. This also means there’s not a lot of new features, but there are some notable ones nonetheless. Let’s take a look.
Easily the most immediately noticeable change in this release is in the Start menu, especially if you have tiles pinned to it. Microsoft has added theme-aware tiles, which means they’re now using a transparency effect instead of being a solid color. Not only that, they will now follow your system theme – light or dark – instead of always being colored, so you can have monochrome tiles to help app icons pop. You can also enable color for the Start menu in Settings -> Personalization -> Colors, and tiles will be colored while retaining the transparency effect.
There are also some improvements to the All Apps list, though. App icons are no longer forced to fit into colored squares, so not only are the icons themselves bigger, but the list as a whole looks a lot cleaner. Plus, there’s a new icon for folders, which falls much more in line with Microsoft’s design language.
Moving down to the taskbar, there’s a small change for new accounts, which may now see some different apps pinned to the taskbar when they login for the first time. Usually, Windows 10 pins Edge, File Explorer, Microsoft Store, and Mail icons to the taskbar out of the box. With this change, you may see some different ones, like the Your Phone replacing Mail if you have linked an Android phone to your Microsoft account, or the Xbox app if you have a gaming PC. This won’t affect you if you’re just updating Windows 10, though, only new users starting with this version, such as with a clean install.
Image credit: Windows Blogs There are also some changes for 2-in-1 devices and the tablet experience, as Microsoft continues to deprecate the traditional tablet mode. When you detach a keyboard or rotate it behind the screen, you’ll no longer see a prompt to switch to tablet mode proper, and instead you’ll see a new experience for tablets, which increases spacing between some items and adds a touch keyboard button to the taskbar to make the touch experience better.
This tablet experience was already available in Windows 10 version 2004, but unless you had a Surface device, you’d still see the tablet mode prompt, and saying no would take you to the new tablet experience. You can re-enable the prompt in Settings -> System -> Tablet if you want to use the classic tablet mode.
On this note, there are a couple of other changes. If your device doesn’t have a touch screen, the Action Center will no longer show the tablet mode button so you don’t enable it by accident. Microsoft has also improved the logic so when you turn on the computer, it will deliver the right experience based on whether you had tablet mode enabled at the last shutdown and if there’s a keyboard attached.
Another thing that’s new in this update is that it’s the first version of Windows 10 to ship with the new Chromium-based Edge, though you’ve been able to install it for a while. However, with the new Edge being bundled into the operating system, there are some new features to improve the integration between the two.
On the taskbar, there are some improvements to pinned sites. If you pin websites to the taskbar using Edge, the taskbar icon will now let you keep track of all the tabs you have open for that website, even if they’re in different Edge windows. The feature requires version 86 of Edge, which is currently only available in beta, but it should be promoted to the stable channel by the time Windows 10 version 20H2 is generally available.
Another Edge-related improvement is in the task switcher, which you access with Alt+Tab. If you have multiple Edge tabs open, you’ll now see each one individually listed in the task switcher, so you can more easily switch to it. By default, up to five Edge tabs will be visible, but you can change this in Settings -> System -> Multi-tasking, so you can see just three tabs, every tab, or only open windows.
Microsoft has made some notable improvements to the way notifications are presented in this update, which makes them a lot easier to understand. For one thing, the name of the app and its icon are now shown at the top, whereas the previous design only showed the app name in small text under the notification content (and even that only appeared for some apps). On top of that, there’s a new X button to immediately dismiss notifications. Before, you’d only be able to hide the notification into the Action Center, and then dismiss it from there, but now it can be dismissed directly from the notification toast.
Old style New style You’ll also notice that the gear button to adjust the notification settings has been replaced with a three-dot button, albeit only in notification toasts and not in the Action Center itself.
On the topic of notifications, Microsoft has also disabled notifications for when Focus Assist is turned on by an automatic rule. Focus Assist mutes incoming notifications automatically during certain scenarios, such as gaming or when using apps in full screen, but when this happened in previous versions of Windows, there would be a notification in the Action Center to indicate that Focus Assist had turned on automatically, as well as a notification when Focus Assist turns back off, letting users know what they missed. Both of these notifications are now disabled by default, but you can re-enable them in Settings -> System -> Focus Assist.
A smaller change can be found in the Settings app, specifically in System -> About. Microsoft has made this the default experience for viewing system information, replacing the equivalent page in the old Control Panel. Links to additional settings can be found here now, and there’s a new button to copy your system information in case you need to share it with someone.
Finally, for businesses and IT administrators, the Modern Device Management (MDM) experience for local users and groups now allows for granular control of policies for groups, just as you would on devices with on-promises Group Policy management.
The Windows 10 October 2020 Update, or version 20H2, was recently brought to the Release Preview channel of the Insider program, and Microsoft is getting ready to release it to general users in the near future, though a date isn't set yet. As usual, feature updates won't install automatically, but it should show up as an optional update in Windows Update, and you can install it manually. For devices running older versions of Windows 10, which might be nearing the end of support, then the update will eventually be pushed to your device so you can keep getting security updates.
What's your favorite change in this release? Will you be installing it as soon as possible? Let us know in the comments!
By Abhay V
Google brings Flutter to Windows in Alpha form, aims to add UWP support soon
by Abhay Venkatesh
Just a day after popular Apple-developed programming language Swift made it to Windows, Google has announced that it is bringing Flutter – its open-source, cross-platform framework – to Windows in Alpha form. The search giant has been working to bring the development platform to Windows for some time and there has even been a technical preview since June. The Alpha is supported on Windows 7 and newer.
Flutter provides developers the ability to reuse code when building apps for multiple platforms while also leveraging the native capabilities of each platform. The Mountain View giant says that as per its own statistics, more than half of Flutter developers use Windows and that the addition of support for native desktop elements and APIs further expands the reach of the cross-platform framework.
While the platform began with touch-based OSes like iOS and Android, it has added support for other input methods such as keyboards, mice, and more, while also adapting for larger screen sizes. This also includes support for plugins that work in unison with native code, bringing more capabilities to apps developed using the framework. The list of added components for the alpha version includes:
The company has also created sample apps for developers to reference, which can be downloaded from GitHub here. Interested users can also head here to read more about how the app was built. The firm has also updated the Flutter Gallery app with support for desktop platforms to exhibit the prowess of the framework. The Flutter SDK can be downloaded from here. Google also recommends that developers read the additional requirements here and has provided a detailed document on getting started in its blog post.
The firm has also created a few plugins, such as the URL launcher for launching URLs in the browser from Flutter apps, and more. Developers can also build their own plugins for Windows. There are various other resources that have been listed in the document here.
With the Alpha release now out, Google says that it is working towards “completing the feature set and stabilizing the product for release”. It is working to improve “accessibility, globalization and localization, enhanced keyboard and text handling, support for command line arguments, and more”.
In addition to supporting Win32 APIs, the company said that it is also working to bring a UWP version of the Flutter shell to add support for platforms such as Xbox and Windows 10X. It has also released a UWP version of the Flutter Gallery app in the Microsoft Store as a proof of concept.
By Usama Jawad96
Swift makes its way to Windows 10, toolchain images now available
by Usama Jawad
Swift is a general-purpose programming language that is developed by Apple and was launched back in 2014. Although initially a proprietary language, Swift went open source for Apple platforms and Linux in 2015.
Today, the Swift team has announced that support for the language has arrived on Windows 10, with new toolchain images now available to download for the operating system.
In a blog post, Saleem Abdulrasool who is a member of the Swift Core Team and a software engineer at Google Brain, has stated that the process of porting Swift to Windows does not only include shipping the compiler but also standard and core libraries since these reduce the coding complexity for developers. With version 5.3 of Swift, development on Windows purely in Swift is now possible, and is at a point "where early adopters can start using Swift to build real experiences". It also allows developers to take advantage of existing Windows libraries.
Abdulrasool has demoed a Calculator app written in Swift that utilizes application code as well as Windows system libraries. Early adopters such as Readdle have also been testing the development of cross-platform applications and have been fairly successful in their endeavors as well.
Swift Package Manager is currently not supported on Windows, but Abdulrasool says that it is coming soon as well. He goes on to say that:
Those interested in trying out Swift on Windows can refer to the "Getting Started" page here. People interested in working on core tooling can check out the Swift Bug Tracker here.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft announces new platform features coming to Windows
by Rich Woods
Today at its Ignite 2020 conference, Microsoft actually has some Windows news to share, and it's all about developers. New versions of products are coming, such as WinUI 3 Preview 3, which lets you make apps for ARM64 now.
First up is MSIX. Developers can now deploy files to a shared container instead of a standalone single MSIX container. This is a big deal for apps that rely on shared files or registry settings. MSIX apps will also be able to automatically update; devs will just have to add metadata with update settings to the app package. There's also a new Azure DevOps extension that automates the process of creating an MSIX package.
For C# .NET 5 developers, you'll now be able to create Windows Runtime components with a new CsWinRT tool, coming to public preview this month. Also, the Windows SDK team is going to be releasing NuGet packages that help you to build Windows apps in "a more cloud-friendly way". The idea is that it will not require a full SDK install, using CI/CD pipelines instead.
There's a new version of React Native for Windows, bringing it to version 0.63. It adds navigation support, better theming support, automatic linking of native modules, and more. WSL is getting new features, with users of Windows 10 versions 1903 and higher getting support for WSL 2. GUI apps in WSL are in testing in the Windows Insider Program, and you can now install WSL by running 'wsl --install'.
Finally, Windows Terminal is getting improvements. It now has hyperlink support, letting you click on things in Terminal and having them open in the browser. It's also adding a jump list to you can launch right into a specific profile, and there's a new command palette to easily navigate your terminal.
By Abhay V
Samsung might expand Galaxy Tab S7's Second screen feature to more Windows PCs
by Abhay Venkatesh
Apple debuted a feature in macOS Catalina called Sidecar back in 2019 that let Mac users extend their computer displays to iPads and other touchscreens. This allowed for users to use the secondary touch and stylus enabled displays – like the iPad Pro – as an input device for the Mac, making it easy to run touch-supported apps on devices without support for such input devices.
Now, a new report suggests that Samsung is working to bring a similar feature to its flagship Galaxy Tab S7 tablets. The feature, internally codenamed ‘Sidekick’, aims to let users extend their Windows PC screens to the tablets and enable the S Pen to work as an active stylus for the devices. The feature is expected to also support different pressure levels from the S Pen.
Interestingly, the South Korean giant detailed this very feature – called Second Screen – during the launch of its Galaxy Tab S7 devices. However, at the time, the firm claimed that the feature would work with Samsung PCs and that it will be available later this year. It is not clear if project Sidekick refers to the same feature, or if it is part of an effort to bring support to all Windows PCs.
While the original announcement suggests that the tablets will connect wirelessly to Windows PCs, it is also not known if the capability will extend to support wired connections. This could greatly improve adoption owing to the addition of support for desktop PCs. Many Windows laptops already offer touchscreen and stylus support. Another advantage for PCs is that users can leverage the tablet’s hardware for input while running resource-heavy creative applications on the desktop.
Second screen will be enabled for the Galaxy Tab S7 and Galaxy Tab S7+ via a firmware update “later this year”. It will be interesting to see how the company pegs this offering, and if ‘Sidekick’ happens to be more than what the company has already revealed.
Source: Android Police