Microsoft has admitted that it has done a poor job of explaining new features to users in its biannual Windows 10 feature updates. So it's now releasing a new iOS-like Tips app to make it easier for users to learn more about the new features in an update.
The new Tips app should help the one billion people who are actively using a Windows 10 device, many of whom aren't keeping abreast of the latest features being tested in the Windows Insider program, or highlighted through Microsoft blogs and tech news reports.
"We know that it doesn't always feel clear what changed with a major update, or even how you can learn about and try out new features and improvements. This means that updates can feel time-consuming without real benefit to you, and we want to change that," said Brandon LeBlanc, a senior program manager on the Windows Insider Program.
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The new "post-update experience" is currently being rolled out to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel on the Windows 10 preview Build 20190. It follows the release of the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, a.k.a. version 2004, which contains relatively few feature changes as Microsoft attempts to stabilise its feature updates to cater for enterprise customers and consumers.
The Tips app will highlight all the major changes in the next feature update after that update is installed. People with this preview build will see a new Tips app that shows "some of the most recent new features from the latest Insider Preview builds in the Dev Channel".
Windows 10 Insider users need to check the 'Show me the Windows welcome experience' checkbox in Settings > System > Notifications & actions. At the moment, it's available for users in the US, UK, Australia, India and Canada.
The latest preview of Windows 10 also tweaks the Graphics Settings page to allow users to pick a default high-performance GPU. On systems with multiple GPUs, users can pick a specific GPU based on the application.
This can be done via Settings > System > Display > Graphics settings, or Settings > Gaming > Graphics settings. The next time a user opens a program that asks for a high-performance GPU, that's the one that will be employed for the task.
Separately, Microsoft is improving the information available about optional updates. Microsoft recently made changes to its optional updates, which were released in the third and fourth week of every month. These updates aren't installed automatically and were referred to as 'C' and 'D' week releases, but are now called 'Preview' releases.
Along with the August Patch Tuesday security update, Microsoft updated its Settings page to show more information about these optional updates, which often fix bugs but aren't forced on users until the security update rolls out.
Now users can go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > View optional updates, to see what optional updates are available. This should help them avoid using Device Manager to see whether there are update drivers for specific devices, according to Microsoft.
The timing of this new Settings feature is no accident. Microsoft's last optional update for Windows 10 version 2004 contained fixes that partially addressed compatibility issues with drivers from Nvidia, Intel and Realtek.
These issues were serious enough for Microsoft to impose upgrade blocks on specific devices affected by compatibility problems after it released this version of Windows 10 in May.
Windows Update will automatically keep drivers updated, but the new page could help users install optional driver updates when they hit driver-related issues.