Microsoft is not integrating spectacular innovations in the new version of Windows 10 this fall. However, the planned changes give first indications of the major function update next spring.
The 20H2 update already gives an outlook on what is coming in spring.
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You had just got used to the rhythm when Microsoft is doing everything differently again: After the first version of Windows 10 was released, there was always a major update with new functions and app updates in the spring. A smaller update followed in autumn with patches and bug fixes as well as only a few real innovations. However, in the autumn update of last year, the software company decided on a different process that is now being used again. In fact, most of the PC users already have the autumn 2020 update, it just has to be activated.
The reasons are some bad experiences from the past – for example, the update procedure used previously went completely wrong two years ago. After installing the autumn update at that time, a number of users complained about the loss of personal data and problems with connecting to network drives. Microsoft had to suspend distribution of the new version for five weeks to fix the bugs. The company did not want to show such nakedness a second time.
In the following year, the new update procedure was used. With the spring update to version 1903, users also received the files and functions for the autumn 2019 update. The code of the two versions was identical, so the patches and security updates published over the summer affected both versions . In this way, at least in autumn, Microsoft had a largely error-free system that only had to be activated with a comparatively small update file.
Initially delayed, the May update (version 2004) is now running on most Windows 10 PCs – and thus practically the autumn update as well.
To be on the safe side, Microsoft only offered this activation with the designation “Enablement Package” via “Update and Security” in the “Settings” of Windows 10 after all patches and security updates had previously been downloaded and installed. Only if an older version with a version number up to 1809 was running on a computer did you have to download and install the large version update with a size of several hundred megabytes.
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The code base remains the same: via activation for update
Microsoft is now continuing the new update process. Most users already have the autumn update 2020 on the SSD or hard drive, it just has to be activated. In this version, too, the code is identical to that of the spring or May update, i.e. Windows 10 Build 2004.
The name of the Windows updates is new and will follow a fixed scheme in the future: The autumn update runs under the abbreviation 20H2, so it is the second update of 2020. The following spring update 2021 will therefore be called 21H1. The build number of the fall update is 2009, while the current May update is number 2004.
According to Microsoft, Windows 10 20H2 should contain numerous functions to improve performance and quality. It is unlikely that anything of this will be visible on the surface. In addition, only minor innovations are to be expected. The most obvious change is likely to be the permanent integration of the new Chromium-based Edge browser.
Microsoft has been offering the program as an optional download since the beginning of the year, and the final changeover will take place in autumn. Microsoft is trying to save what can be saved in this way: According to the statistics portal Statcounter, the previous Edge browser had a global market share of less than five percent in the spring of this year, Google Chrome was ahead with an almost unattainable 68 percent.
In the new version, Edge gets a three-stage tracking protection. However, personal profiles for various security settings cannot be created in the browser.
In Germany the situation is a little different. Firefox has a larger following here, Chrome “only” had a market share of 47 percent in early summer, Firefox was 22 percent and the previous Microsoft browser based on Edge-HMTL was a good eight percent. With the new Edge version, Microsoft is switching to the same code base as Google Chrome and the Norwegian browser Opera. The basis is the Chromium open source project, which has been in existence for more than ten years and is being promoted further with the collaboration of Google developers. While the basis is identical for Chrome, Opera and the new Edge, the three browsers have additional features that Chromium lacks. This applies above all to the security functions: Like the Chromium Edge, Google Chrome has protection against known spyware and malware extensions. In addition, the user can choose between three settings for tracking protection. Various speed tests also show that the program has meanwhile left its competitor Firefox behind.
“Service Pack” with a preview of the new features in spring 2021
Overall, Windows 10 20H2 is more of a kind of service pack. Major changes are not expected until spring 2021, when Microsoft releases version 21H1. Interestingly, however, the Edge browser already gives an idea of what to expect in the coming year.
On the start page of the browser you can see that Microsoft has changed the display slightly. The tiles that refer to the last visited web pages as links now have rounded corners. According to insider information, this departure from the previous, angular design will continue in the start menu and in Explorer. In addition to a new design for apps and important Microsoft applications, it will also receive new color schemes.
Error in version updates despite Windows Insider Program
Microsoft has announced several new designs for the start menu for spring 2021. In addition, the integrated Windows applications are to have new icons.
After the postponed Windows update in autumn 2018, it turned out that the error responsible for the data loss had long been known: users had previously reported it to Microsoft as part of the Windows Insider Program. The successor version, the spring update with build number 1903 from 2019, also had several major errors. Microsoft was therefore only able to offer the software on many PCs several weeks late. The same thing was repeated with the 2004 version, which was not played until the end of May.
The Windows Insider Program is supposed to prevent such mishaps. Since 2014 Microsoft has been offering users pre-release versions of the operating system in the “Settings” via “Update and Security -› Windows Insider Program ”. The Insider Program is open to every Windows user and participation is free. With a Microsoft account you can
register for the program
Up to now, you had the choice between different development variants, called “rings” by Microsoft. In the so-called Fast Ring, Microsoft distributed new builds relatively often, which also resulted in frequent, large downloads and time-consuming reinstallations. Inquisitive users got to see new functions early on, but the versions were often not fully developed. New builds played more rarely in the slow ring were more stable. Later, additional rings such as Skip Ahead and Release Preview were added, through which the next but one version or the version that is about to be completed was received.
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Windows Insider: Microsoft is introducing update channels instead of rings
The new Edge browser based on Chromium already indicates with its rounded corners in which direction the future design of Windows 10 should develop.
In the summer, Microsoft changed the concept of the rings and introduced the new update channels in its Insider Program. These should no longer differ in the frequency with which they make new builds available, but in the quality.
Since then, there have been three channels: Microsoft has set up the Dev Channel (“Developer”) for developers and Windows nerds, which provides Windows versions at an early stage of development: currently both for version 20H2 and 21H1. Microsoft distributes somewhat more stable builds via the beta channel, which the company has already tested itself.
Finally, in the release preview channel, new Windows versions appear before they are available everywhere via the Windows update.
Windows does the conversion from rings to channels automatically. However, it is still unclear whether this will help to reduce the number of bugs in new Windows versions. Because the fundamental problem is apparently the large amount of feedback from Windows insiders, so that indications of errors are likely to remain unconsidered again and again in the future.
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