Here’s what’s new in Windows 10s’ “October 2020 Update”

Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 feature has started rolling out and is known as the Windows 10 October 2020 Update, version 20H2. This is the second Windows 10 update this calendar year and brings enhancements to the May 2020 update adding subtle design and performance tweaks rather than bringing loads of new features and changes.

This update is delivered as a cumulative update that is installed on top of version 2004, which means that the update isn’t a full install/upgrade so doesn’t take long to install…. If, however you are not on version 20H2, then the update is delivered as full upgrade. 

Here, I walk through the key changes that I feel are worth a mention – let me know if I have missed anything you feel is worth a mention.

Start menu changes

In this build the Start menu has been streamlined with a tweaked design that removes the solid colour background behind the icon in the apps list and applies a partially transparent background to the tiles, which matches the menu colour scheme that should help to make easier to scan and find an app quickly.

Windows 10 20H2 StartMenu


Taskbar Changes

For new users (doesn’t apply to devices upgraded), Windows 10 “can” 0offer a more personalised layout, cleaner, and less clutter taskbar experience. A notable example of this is for users that use the Android “link your phone” or “Your Phone” app – they will now see the Your Phone app pinned in the taskbar. For personal users, if they have an Xbox Live account, then they also see the Xbox app pined by default to the task bar. 

Notifications improvements 

Another subtle change in this build are some changes to the notification experience. From this build onwards, there a new notification icon at the top of the notification group to help the user understand the app that generated the alert/notification.

Also, worth mentioning, the Windows 10 OS now also turns off the Focus Assist notification and summary toast by default to avoid unwanted distractions – though this can be re-enabled if needed.

Changes to “Settings” pages

Microsoft continue to move old settings services to the new Windows 10 Settings pages as well as tweaking the existing pages

  • The About settings page now allows you to copy the device information to the clipboard
  • Any “link” that would have traditionally opened the System page in the old Control Panel will now direct you to the About page in Settings.
  • Microsoft have added the ability to control and change the refresh rate for different connected displayed under the updated Advanced display settings page. 

Changes to the Tablet experience

Since the very first version of Windows 10 back in 2015, Microsoft has had a tablet mode designed to make navigating Windows 10 on a touch screen tablet more…well, tablet like.

This is one of the most slated features in Windows 10 so it’s nice to see that us been given a bit of love in this update. The new tablet experience, introduced with this update, is now the default mode when detaching the keyboard on convertible devices. I like this since it means that users will no longer see a notification asking to select a mode when in keyboardless mode. Microsoft have also removed the tablet mode quick action on non-touch enabled devices

Finally, there is a new control “logic” that allows users to boot into the appropriate mode according to the mode they were last signed in and whether the keyboard is attached to the device or not.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium is baked in)

In this build, Microsoft is now shipping their new Chromium powered Microsoft Edge browser into the Windows 10 operating system. What’s also nice is that open browser tabs will now appear in the App Switcher (Alt + Tab) shortcut like separate apps, but Microsoft do allow this experience to be changed under Settings > System > Multitasking allowing users to configure the Alt + Tab experience to show none, last three, last five tabs or all. 

Windows 10 Multi-Taskingh Settings on Windows 10 20H2

Updated naming conventions on this and future builds

As of this version, Microsoft is also changing the versioning scheme from the year and month (for example 1903) to year and half one or two of the year scheme (for example, this October 2020 Update is version 20H2 because is releasing in the second half of 2020).

What’s Next?

As such the next update which is currently in preliminary stages of testing with #WindowsInsiders using this new versioning scheme, the next version is therefore expected to be 21H1, since it’s expected to release during the first half of 2021.

If you are interested in signing up as an “insider”, you can do so here: 

Not only can you contribute feedback and ideas to the future of Windows10, you can even get recognised for your enthusiasm and drive by coming an MVP!



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