Microsoft’s Windows 10 April 2018 Update barely gets a formal title, which understandably makes you wonder how much time the company put into it. But as our review shows, what Microsoft internally referred to as the “Redstone 4” release conceals numerous changes and improvements, with two—Timeline and Nearby Sharing—sharing the marquee.

Really, though, the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (Version 1803) is an ensemble show, with a supporting cast of more minor improvements. There’s Quiet Hours, now called Focus Assist; improved data usage management; and a ton of updates in Edge, some of which you’ve seen before within other browsers. Underneath it all, Microsoft may be building something new, as the Edge engine includes the underpinnings for Progressive Web Apps, a fresh way of supplying apps to the Microsoft Store.

This somewhat piecemeal update frees us from trying to establish a cohesive narrative, though. You’ll find that Microsoft tweaked, improved, and altered Windows here and there, and our review will hop around as well. 

A peppier look and feel: Fluent Design

Your first impressions of the new version of Windows 10 will begin on the desktop, which looks nearly identical to earlier versions. Dive deeper, though, and more subtle changes reveal themselves. Expect to see more of Microsoft’s Fluent Design throughout Windows, with its semi-transparent “acrylic” UI letting the colors of background apps bleed through like frosted glass.

Microsoft Windows 10 Spring Creators Update fluent design in edge Mark Hachman / IDG

Elements of Fluent Design, Microsoft’s new aesthetic, now permeate farther and farther into Windows. You can see a tiny bit of this “frosted glass” effect within the Start menu, but it’s shown off nicely here in Edge.

Under Settings > Ease of Access > Display, you’ll find a wealth of new settings to manage this experience. Do you want to add visible scrollbars within UWP apps? (I do.) Turn off the background image? (Never!) You can also adjust how long notifications remain on your screen, and even extinguish Fluent Design’s transparency effects.

Windows 10 Spring Creators Update start menu icon shortcuts Mark Hachman / IDG

Shortcuts for Documents and Pictures have been added to the Start menu.

Functionally, there are a few small changes. Microsoft has now added shortcut icons for Documents and Pictures above the Start Menu icon in the lower left. Notifications once assigned to Cortana have now migrated to the Action Center on the lower right. The Windows Defender Security Center (Settings > Update & Security) is now just “Windows Security.” And if you haven’t turned on Windows Hello, you may see a prompt on the lock screen to set it up. 

Timeline: A solid feature with future potential

One of Windows 10’s strengths is supplying innovative ways to help users get things done. One of its weaknesses is how it peers over your shoulder to accomplish this. Timeline, arguably the marquee feature of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, incorporates elements of both.

Windows 10 Spring Creators Update timeline icon pcworld Mark Hachman / IDG

Timeline replaces Task View within the Windows 10 taskbar.

As you work, Timeline optionally records the pages you visited using Edge (but not Chrome, or any other browser) and keeps track of what documents you touch within Microsoft Office. (Timeline is on by default.) If you click the taskbar button once reserved for Task View, Timeline opens up to reveal your recent computing activity, going back over the past days and weeks.



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