Windows 10 October 2020 Update review: Microsoft nudges Windows ahead slightly

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Windows 10 October 2020 Update review: Microsoft nudges Windows ahead slightly

Microsoft’s Windows 10 October 2020 Update (20H2) update will usher the new Microsoft Edge browser onto millions of PCs, while upgrading the venerable Alt + Tab shortcut with a needed new function. But Microsoft’s designers have turned the once-colorful Start menu into watery gruel with a less-than-impressive visual update.

All in all, the Windows 10 October 2020 Update is another in a line of anemic fall feature updates. And that’s okay! We expected this. For the past two to three years, Microsoft’s major feature updates have coalesced within the “spring” releases, leaving mainly minor patches and quality updates for the fall release. (See the Windows 10 November 2019 Update.) This year is no different, though the small list of changes do allow for some interesting tweaks to your Windows 10 PC.

Microsoft said in late August that the Windows 10 October 2020 Update (Windows currently reports the version number as “20H2” in our preview build) has been released for commercial testing. We ran it through its paces in early September, using Microsoft’s Beta Channel (build 19042.508) as the source for our test builds, which Microsoft now says is the “final” build. Microsoft hasn’t indicated the exact date when the Windows 10 October 2020 Update will be released to the PC market at large.

Here’s what’s new in the Windows 10 October 2020 Update, and what it will mean to you.

Microsoft windows 10 20H2 version large Mark Hachman / IDG

So far, the official version number of Windows 10 20H2 is… 20H2.

Speedy installation

You’ll be interested to know that the October 2020 update will most likely be lightning-fast. 

“As with Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909, versions 2004 and 20H2 share a common core operating system with an identical set of system files,” Microsoft program manager Aria Carley wrote. “New features are included in monthly quality updates for version 2004 in an inactive and dormant state. These new 20H2 features remain dormant until they are turned on through the ‘enablement package,’ a small, quick-to-install “master switch” that activates the Windows 10, version 20H2 features.”

On our test Surface devices, the update took approximately one minute, including a single reboot.

Start menu changes… for the worse

One of the more significant changes Microsoft has made to Windows 10 via the October 2020 Update involves the Start menu, and I don’t like it. 

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