Windows 10 version 21H1: Key enterprise features

What business users and IT pros should know about new features in the Windows 10 May 2021 Update, version 21H1.

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Windows 10 April 2018 Update (version 1803)

At long last, Microsoft has begun rolling out its spring update for Windows 10, version 1803. Following the six-month release cycle of previous feature updates, including the Creators Update in April 2017 and the Fall Creators Update in October 2017, version 1803 was expected in late March or early April 2018; however, the late discovery of a serious bug delayed the release until April 30. Coded-named Redstone 4, the new release is called, imaginatively, the Windows 10 April 2018 Update.

We’ve been tracking the Insider Preview builds of 1803 as they’ve rolled out. Here are the new features that enterprise users and IT should note.

1. Pick up where you left off with Timeline

The much anticipated Timeline feature debuts with the spring release. It's part of the Task View tool and takes snapshots of your activities in various Windows apps over time — documents you were working on, web pages you visited, and so on. After a series of these snapshots have been archived by Timeline, you can click the Task View icon and scroll vertically back in time through thumbnails of these past activities, or use the search box to search for a specific activity. Click on any thumbnail, and the appropriate app and piece of content will be reopened.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 - Timeline Howard Wen / IDG

Timeline lets you pick up where you left off with past activities.

Using Timeline, you can open a snapshot to resume working on something where you left off. Even better, you can do this across different Windows 10 computers if you sign into them with your Microsoft online user account. You could start work on a document in the Word app using your home computer, and then resume writing it on your work computer at the office.

Be aware that Timeline only takes snapshots of Windows apps that have been designed to support it, such as the Edge browser and Microsoft Office apps. Microsoft is encouraging app developers to update their apps to support Timeline.

2. Get a handle on Microsoft’s diagnostic data harvesting

Attempting to alleviate privacy concerns that have been surrounding Windows 10, the Diagnostic Data Viewer shows you the diagnostic information that the OS sends to Microsoft. It also reveals information about your computer's hardware that is stored in Microsoft's cloud. All of this is presented in plain text format and is searchable through a search box in the tool.

As of this writing, the Diagnostic Data Viewer software itself isn't included in the Windows 10 Insider builds, but Insiders who have installed build 17083 or later can download and install it. To do so, launch the Settings app, go to Privacy > "Diagnostics & feedback," and turn on the "Diagnostic data viewer" option. A "Diagnostic Data Viewer" button will become active — you click it to launch the Microsoft Store app, which then presents you with the tool to download and install.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 diagnostic data viewer Howard Wen / IDG

The Diagnostic Data Viewer tool shows you the hardware diagnostic information that Windows 10 sends to Microsoft.

Also on the Settings > Privacy > "Diagnostics & feedback" screen, you’ll find an option to delete all diagnostic data that Microsoft has collected from your device.

3. Share files over Bluetooth

The new Near Share feature lets you send files over Bluetooth to nearby Windows 10 PCs — handy for sharing files in meetings, for instance. All the computers you want to share with must have Bluetooth turned on, must be in Bluetooth range, must have Near Share enabled and must be running the Redstone 4 update.

For in-app use, Near Share works only from Windows apps that support sharing content, such as Photos and Edge. In these apps, when you click the "Share" button, Windows 10 computers nearby that have Near Share turned on will appear on the Share pop-up menu listing the devices that you can share to. In this way you can send an image you're viewing in the Photos app or the URL for a web page you’re viewing in Edge to a nearby Windows 10 computer.

More useful: from File Explorer, you can use Near Share to transfer any file to another Windows 10 PC. Just right-click the file and choose Share to see the Share pop-up menu described above.

Near Share isn't activated by default — you and anyone you want to share files with have to turn it on first. Click the Action Center icon located at the right end of the taskbar, and on the panel that slides in, click the "Near Share" button.

4. Enhanced “do not disturb” functions

The Quiet Hours feature has a new name, Focus Assist, and an interface you can access from the Settings app. It’s under System > Focus assist. Here you can set automatic rules for times when you don’t want to be disturbed.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 focus assist Microsoft

You can fine-tune your “do not disturb” settings with the Focus Assist feature.

Focus Assist has three main settings: Turning Focus Assist off lets all notifications from your apps and contacts through. Selecting “Alarms only” hides all notifications except alarms.

Selecting “Priority only” is the middle path; it allows only selected notifications from your priority list through. You can grant priority to apps, people in your contacts, or phone activities (if you have an Android phone with the Cortana app installed). You can also control when you don’t want to be disturbed by these prioritized notifications: during a time range, when you are at a specified location (like home), or when your PC is set to display its screen on another display (such as when you’re giving a presentation).

You can switch among the three main Focus Assist settings on the fly by right-clicking the Action Center icon in the taskbar and making a selection from the pop-up menu.

5. Settings app additions and changes

As has been the case with each major Windows 10 update, the April 2018 Update copies a few more settings and functions from areas of the old Windows user interface to the Settings app.

First up is control of startup applications. In the old days, if you wanted to prevent a background application from loading and running when Windows boots up, you had to launch the Task Manager to set this. Now this control also appears in the Settings app under Apps > Startup. This new way is far simpler: simply click the switch to "off" by the name of the app you don't want to launch at boot-up.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 startup apps Howard Wen / IDG

To keep an app from starting up when you start Windows, click its toggle to “off.”

Originally in the Control Panel, font control can also be found in the Settings app under Personalization > Fonts. It shows bigger, clearer examples of your computer’s installed fonts. From this interface, you can click "Get more fonts in the Store" to launch the Microsoft Store app. This takes you to the Store’s fonts section, where you can browse fonts to download and install.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 settings fonts Microsoft

In the Settings app, click Personalization > Fonts to see all your installed fonts and get more from the Microsoft Store.

The functionality of the old Disk Cleanup tool is now in the Settings app, too, under System > Storage > Free up space now. (You can still access the original Disk Cleanup. In File Explorer, right-click a drive on your PC (e.g., “C:”) and click Properties from the panel that opens. Click the “Disk Cleanup” button in the next panel.)

windows 10 redstone 4 settings free up space Howard Wen / IDG

“Free up space now” is the new Settings app version of the Disk Cleanup tool.

Windows Defender, the suite of security settings and tools that are built into Windows 10, has been renamed “Windows Security.” It's listed in the Settings app under Update & Security > Windows Security.

6. User interface tweaks

Microsoft has also been busy updating three flagship features of Windows 10: My People, Edge and Cortana.

First released in the Fall Creators Update in 2017, My People lets you pin your email and Skype contacts as shortcut icons on the taskbar. Clicking the icon of a contact opens a menu that lets you communicate with that person immediately — for instance, sending an email through the Windows 10 Mail app or initiating a video call through the Skype app. Originally, you could pin up to three contacts on the taskbar; the April 2018 Update raises this to 10. And its UI now lets you drag and drop to rearrange the order of your contacts pinned on the taskbar.

In the Edge browser, there’s a full-screen view button on the toolbar that appears above an EPUB formatted ebook, a PDF, or a web page rendered in the browser’s “reading view” mode. And its Favorites manager has a better UI that makes it easier to organize your saved bookmarks.

windows 10 Redstone 4 Edge favorites management Howard Wen / IDG

Favorites management has been improved in Edge.

Under its Notebook panel, Cortana has a new Organizer tab that shows your lists and reminders in an easier-to-view format. Cortana’s Collections feature, which suggests links for you to save and group together as you’re browsing the web with Edge, is now part of the Lists feature under this Organizer tab.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 Cortana Organizer Howard Wen / IDG

Cortana’s Organizer tab makes lists and reminders easier to see.

7. Password recovery for Windows 10 local accounts

If you prefer to sign in to your Windows 10 computer with a local account (as opposed to a Microsoft online user account, such as an Outlook.com one), you can enable password recovery for it. Launch the Settings app, go to Accounts > Sign-in Options and click "Update your security questions." Fill in answers to the three questions here. In case you ever forget your password when signing in to Windows 10, you'll be presented these questions. Answer all three questions correctly, and you will be able to create a new password to sign in to your Windows PC.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 local login password recovery Microsoft

Set your security questions to enable password recovery for local Windows 10 accounts.

8. Linux command additions

Several new Linux-related items have been added to the Command Prompt. Curl and tar tools for downloading and extracting .tar archives are under the directory C:\Windows\System32\ as curl.exe and tar.exe. The new wslpath command will convert a Linux directory path to its Windows version. There are many other additions of a highly technical nature; most apply to developing and running Linux code under Windows 10. You can read about them in greater detail at Microsoft's Windows Command Line Tools for Developers page.

9. Manage bandwidth under Group Policy

Attention admins: New options have been added to the Group Policy tool for you to control the bandwidth used by Windows Update and by Windows apps automatically updating themselves. One option includes throttling the amount of bandwidth used based on time of day. To access these settings, launch the Group Policy Editor and go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Delivery Optimization.

Windows 10 Redstone 4 group policy manage bandwidth Microsoft

New options in Group Policy let you fine-tune bandwidth usage by Windows Update and Windows apps.

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