Microsoft’s Windows 10 ($150 at Amazon) October 2020 Update is now available to download for those in the Windows Insider Program, and is expected to roll out widely in — you guessed it — October. The update, also known as Windows 10 version 20H2, includes the new , and updates to the Start menu, taskbar and notifications.
Major refreshes to the OS come about every six months, with the most recent being the May 2020 update. If you’ve already installed that update, the October version should only take a few minutes to download. But if you don’t have the May 2020 update installed first, it could take about 20 to 30 minutes, or longer on older hardware, according to our sister site ZDNet.
Here’s what we know about the Windows 10 October 2020 update, and how to download it to your device once it’s available. This story is periodically updated with current information.
When will the Windows 10 October 2020 Update be available?
For those in the Windows Insider Program, the October 2020 Update is available now in the Release Preview Channel. According to Microsoft, this current build (version 19042.508) is the final one.
The final version became available to mainstream users sometime in October, but we don’t know exactly when.
How do I download the Windows 10 October 2020 Update?
If you’re a member of the Windows Insider Program Release Preview Channel (find out how to sign up here) and want to install the October 2020 Update, do the following, according to a Windows blog post:
Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and click Check for Updates. You should see Feature update to Windows 10, version 20H2. Click Download and install.
Once the download is complete and the update is ready to install, you’ll get a notification from Microsoft so that you can choose the right time to finish the installation and reboot your computer.
If you’re in the Windows Insider Program Beta Channel, Microsoft is also beginning to roll out the October 2020 Update automatically.
Once you’ve updated, you’ll automatically receive new services updates through Windows Update.
What new features does the October 2020 Update include?
The Windows 10 October 2020 Update doesn’t include a ton of massive changes from the May update, but there are a lot of smaller refinements that should make your computing experience better. According to Microsoft, these include:
- Microsoft Edge: The update will include the new instead of the legacy version for the first time. The new Edge browser includes a privacy feature that tries to block sites that track you online, and a feature called Collections that lets you gather information from different websites as you’re doing research.
- Start menu: A new Start menu will feature a more streamlined design, replacing the solid color backplates behind the logos in your apps list with partially transparent backgrounds, helping the icons stand out more. You can also set an accent color if you like.
- Tabs: Open all tabs in Edge in Alt + Tab, instead of just the active one in each browser window. You can also configure it to show only your last three or five tabs, or turn it off completely under Settings > System > Multitasking.
- Taskbar: Personalize your Taskbar so you can find what you’re looking for faster.
- Notifications: See where your notification is coming from by checking the app logo at the top, and dismiss it by clicking the X in the top right corner. Focus Assist notification and summary will be turned off by default.
- Settings: Find more Control Panel features in the Settings About page under Settings > System > About.
- 2-in-1 devices: For these device users, instead of getting a notification asking if you want to switch to tablet mode every time you detach your keyboard, it will happen by default.
Will previous versions of Windows 10 still work?
Microsoft will end support for Windows 10 1809 (also known as the October 2018 update) for Home, Pro, Pro Education and Pro for Workstations editions in November. (Support was originally scheduled to end in May, but Microsoft delayed this due to the impact of the .) Support for Enterprise and Education editions will last until May 2021.
You can still use version 1809, but the loss of Microsoft support means you will no longer get important security patches or other updates.
Version 2004 (also known as the May 2020 Update) will be supported until December 2021.
Read more at TechRepublic: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)
Do I have to update to the October 2020 version?
Nope. Microsoft recommends that you update, of course, but it’s not mandatory — unless you’re about to hit an end-of-service date for the version you’re currently running. You can find out more about the update process on ZDNet.
To see which version of Windows 10 you have, go to Settings > System > About and scroll to Windows Specifications, where you’ll find the edition and version number.
If you have version 1903 (released in May 2019) and want to keep it, you have until December before support ends. If you have version 1909 (released in November 2019), you have until May 2021 to update. And if you have version 2004 (released in May 2020), you have until December 2021 to update.
In a May blog post, Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer of Windows and devices, gave an update on the . The OS, announced last year, was designed to work with new dual-screen devices, which are not yet available. However, given the changes in the world and the fact that most people are sticking to more typical and right now, Microsoft will move the instead, Panay wrote.
“With Windows 10X, we designed for flexibility, and that flexibility has enabled us to pivot our focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices that leverage the power of the cloud to help our customers work, learn and play in new ways,” Panay wrote in the post. “These single-screen devices will be the first expression of Windows 10X that we deliver to our customers, and we will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market.”
For more, check outand .