Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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Windows 10 October 2018 Update review: Many small improvements make a better experience

Microsoft’s Windows 10 October 2018 Update, officially released October 2, doesn’t offer the standout, marquee features you might have come to expect from earlier releases. But as our review demonstrates, a few new features highlight a longer list of under-the-hood, day-to-day improvements.

Our review is based on the final Windows 10 Insider Builds, which led up to the official October 2018 Update. Microsoft doesn’t appear to have added anything with the announcement, but we’ll check and update this story to reflect any last-minute changes. (For now, though, the launch is officially on hold — an undetermined number of users have suffered data loss from upgrading right away, so Microsoft has put the update on hold until it solves the problem. We didn’t experience any issues with Insider builds, but as always, back up your data.)

We’ve assigned a review score, but, as always, pay less attention to the number than to how the October 2018 Update will affect you. We’ve separated what we’d call “the little things”—everyday features and conveniences—into their own article, covering automated OneDrive backups, for example, and independent text resizing. Here, we’ll talk about the major new features: apps like Your Phone and Microsoft Font Maker, and how the nifty little Cloud Clipboard works in the real world. One’s particularly worth noting: Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft Edge is now an everyday browser

Many initially characterized Edge in the same way they saw Internet Explorer: as a vehicle to download Chrome or Firefox, then ignore forever. And who can blame them? It’s been three years since Edge was first introduced, and it’s just now gained enough features and performance to be a viable competitor. 

Microsoft has long argued that Edge enables longer battery life than the competition—a case we proved awhile back. In our extensive testing to determine the best Web browser from June, Edge’s performance begins to shine through—with one caveat, as we wrote then: “The fact is, as a day-to-day browser Edge is serviceable at best, and Microsoft really needs to step up its game especially when it comes to loading multiple tabs.” 

Microsoft edge autoplay videos primary Mark Hachman / IDG

Within Edge, you now have the option of preventing videos on a given website from autoplaying using this menu.

Opening 20 media-heavy tabs now feels about 90 to 95 percent of what of I would expect in terms of performance, and that’s without an ad blocker like Ghostery enabled. Pages are almost instantly navigable. The only glitch I notice is that Ctrl+Tab functionality for opening an additional tab isn’t immediately responsive. I can go back and forth between pages quite easily. Edge will “tombstone” idle pages, however, and that still slows down open tabs a bit more than I’d like.

As for new features, Edge now blocks videos from autoplaying on individual websites. It works pretty well, though you’ll still see a video window or popup load  even if the video doesn’t play. In fact, if you want to read a news story without ads or video, you can always click the existing “Reading view” book icon in the URL bar—it’s a great feature of Edge, and many people don’t use it. And if you do, Edge now allows you to highlight words and get definitions right within the right-click popup window, a feature that extends to ebooks. You’ll also see helpful shortcuts like “Show in folder” within the Downloads tab within Edge, which makes downloaded files easy to find. 

Google Chrome is still far superior to Edge in migrating Favorites via the cloud to a new machine. Edge still has trouble passing along passwords. But Edge isn’t painful to use anymore. I feel it’s close enough for day-to-day use.


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