Tech

Microsoft starts rolling out Windows 10 update with Edge browser enhancements

Key Points
  • This is the second fall Windows release that's about improving quality, rather than providing major new features.
  • More than 1 billion devices run Windows 10.
Microsoft boss Satya Nadella speaking at the DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference in Munich, Germany, 16 Janaury 2017. Guests at the 3-day conference discussed trends and developments in digitalisation.
Tobias Hase | picture alliance | Getty Images

Microsoft said Tuesday it's starting to release the next version of its Windows 10 operating system for PCs and tablets. The Windows 10 October 2020 Update, aka version 20H2, irons out technical and security issues and provides a handful of software enhancements.

More than 1 billion devices run Windows 10, making it more popular than Apple's MacOS and Google's Chrome OS. Windows contributes about 16% of Microsoft's revenue, as consumers and businesses buy machines with the operating system installed.

Microsoft introduced Windows 10 in 2015. Since then the company has issued two updates per year. This marks the second year Microsoft is bringing out a relatively low-profile update in the fall that seeks to boost the performance and quality of Windows, rather than a release packed with attention-grabbing new features that people might have to learn how to use.

Here are some of the changes in version 20H2:

  • The new version of the Edge browser powered by the open-source Chromium engine arrives, for those who don't already have it. Compared with the Microsoft-made Edge that debuted with Windows 10 in 2015, Chromium-based Edge supports more websites and browser extensions. Microsoft had made early versions of Chromium-based Edge available for people to download in 2019, but the company had not previously packaged it up with a Windows update until now. (Chromium is the same core technology that powers Google's popular Chrome browser, but released under an open-source license for third parties to modify and redistribute.)
  • If you choose to use Edge, the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut will allow you to toggle between different browser tabs, as well as any open programs. Users can adjust or disable that new behavior by going to Settings > System > Multitasking.
  • If you pin a website — say, CNBC.com — to your Taskbar in Edge, now when you hover over the app icon for that website in the Taskbar, Windows will show you all of the open browser tabs from that website across various browser windows. It's similar to the way you can see all open windows for a given program, such as Excel, by hovering over its icon in the Taskbar.
  • If you have a two-in-one PC, such as a Surface Pro, and you take off the keyboard, Windows will no longer display a dialog box to ask if you'd like to switch to tablet mode; it will just do that automatically.
  • The background color for icons that appear on the Start menu will look consistent and match well with the light or dark color of the full Start menu, depending on whether the machine uses a light or dark theme.
  • Microsoft will try to do a better job of selecting the app icons that will appear by default in the Taskbar when people create new accounts or log on for the first time. For instance, the Taskbar might display the Your Phone app instead of the standard-issue Mail app for people who have linked their Android phones to Windows. Microsoft said it won't change Taskbar app icons for existing accounts.
  • It's easier to take action on the specifications of a given PC and its version of Windows. Microsoft has added copy buttons to the Settings > System > About page.

You can check if the update is available for your PC by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and clicking the "check for updates" button.

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