Here Comes Windows 10 Version 1803

Here Comes Windows 10 Version 1803

This month, Microsoft will begin deploying its fifth feature update for Windows 10, updating the system to version 1803. Here’s what you can expect from this release, which is a fairly minor upgrade compared to previous feature updates.

First, a quick note about names.

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The official name of this release is Windows 10 version 1803. This is the sixth version of Windows 10 overall since the system’s initial release in mid-2015. New versions of Windows 10 occur via feature updates, and the feature update that will upgrade your PC to version 1803 was codenamed Redstone 4 (RS4). Its final name has yet to be announced, but I’m now told it will not be called the Spring Creators Update.

Most previous feature updates—like the Anniversary Update (mid-2016), the Creators Update (early 2017), and the Fall Creators Update (late 2017) were major releases with significant functional changes.

But the torrid pace of feature update releases, which occur twice a year now, combined with the mature nature of Windows, suggested that it was only a matter of time before Microsoft stopped pummeling users with so much change. And Windows 10 version 1803, thankfully, is that release.

There’s only one major new feature to speak of, called Timeline. But since it’s hidden in an obscure multitasking interface called Task View, it’s unlikely that most users will even find it. Which is probably just fine for the general populace, frankly.

Power users, however, will want to know about Timeline. It combines the previous multitasking functionality of Task View (sort of an ALT + TAB on steroids) with a sort of time travel. Meaning that not only can you access the applications and windows that are currently available, but you can see the applications and windows that you were using over time. And find things you were working on previously more easily. It’s a smart feature, and a nice counterpoint to the nonsense that’s been creeping into Windows 10 for years.

While Timeline will remain hidden to most users, it’s fair to say that virtually everyone who upgrades to Windows 10 version 1803 will notice the more liberal use of the Acrylic translucency effect and Reveal animations that are part of Microsoft’s evolving Fluent Design System. This attractive new look and feel is more prevalent throughout the system now, giving Windows a more modern look.

Microsoft Edge has improved enough in this release for me to recommend it to the casual users who make up the bulk of the Windows 10 user base. (Power users will want to stick with Chrome or Firefox, of course.) New in version 1803 is a redesigned Hub, by which you access your favorites, reading list, browser history, and downloads; dramatic improvements to the PDF, ebook, and EPUB reading experiences; web form auto-fill, tab muting, and numerous other enhancements.

Perhaps even more important, Microsoft Edge has been updated to support the technologies behind Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), and Microsoft is adding native PWA support to the Microsoft Store in Windows 10. This means that we should soon see a huge increase in the number and quality of Store apps.

The new Twitter app is a PWA.

Cortana has also been updated to focus on tips and activities. The most important of these is its ability to help you pick up where you left off, a more discoverable front-end to that Timeline feature. Cortana’s US-centricity remains a sore spot for many, of course.

Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to prevent the privacy police from crashing the Windows 10 data collection party has resulted into another round of what I call privacy theater. So the privacy tools in Settings have been updated yet again, this time to include a new diagnostic data setting where you can choose between “full” (the default) and “basic” data collection. There’s also a nice Diagnostic Data Viewer app (which you must download first) that lets you see the data that Microsoft is collecting in XML form. Perfect for that protocol droid you no doubt own.

Once you have upgraded to Windows 10 version 1803, you’ll find that subsequent feature updates will install more efficiently: They’ll still take a long time to install—about an hour—but you won’t have to wait to use the PC as long because more of the upgrade will happen while you’re still using it. The “offline” part of the upgrade—which happens when you reboot the PC—is now shorter, resulting in less downtime.

There are a ton of other smaller changes, of course. Rarely-used features like My People and Near Share have been updated, and touch and pen functionality has been fine-tuned. And others. But the features noted above are the ones that I think will impact most users. As you can see, it’s a delightfully short list.

Hopefully, the upgrade process will go as smoothly as was the case for the past two feature updates. As you may recall, the Anniversary Update was a nightmare of reliability issues, but Microsoft seems to have cleaned up its act since then. And based on my experiences with this system so far, I think this will be a fairly seamless and innocuous upgrade for most. So that’s great news.

Windows 10 version 1803 should begin deploying to end-user PCs on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.


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Conversation 47 comments

  • TheJoeFin

    Premium Member
    02 April, 2018 - 11:06 am

    <p>I'm so excited to have Timeline on my main PC. I think it is the biggest and most important feature Microsoft has added to Windows 10 to date. When Sets comes (hopefully in next release) I can see these two features working together to elevate Windows above other desktop operating systems. I'll be watching with great interest as Microsoft uses this Microsoft Graph backend across their mobile apps and cloud services. Very cool stuff.</p>

  • NT6.1

    02 April, 2018 - 11:42 am

    <p>Microsoft failed in deliver consistent, feature rich builds. There's always an excuse for their fail:</p><p><br></p><p>1507: "Oh, it's just the RTM, things will get better!"</p><p>1511: "Just minor fixes, wait for new exciting features!"</p><p>1607: "We're just celebrating the anniversary of Windows 10, nothing to worry!"</p><p>1703: "We're introducing lots of creators features, wait for new and exciting creative tools!"</p><p>1709: "Happy fall!"</p><p>1803: "Spring is such a beautiful season!"</p><p><br></p><p>Yeah, I know there's changes under the hood, but that's not exciting for most people. Windows 7 remains rock solid.</p>

    • Bart

      Premium Member
      02 April, 2018 - 1:48 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#258748"><em>In reply to NT6.1:</em></a></blockquote><p>That's what people said about XP until it stopped being serviced. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.</p>

    • Lauren Glenn

      02 April, 2018 - 2:21 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#258748"><em>In reply to NT6.1:</em></a></blockquote><p>I don't know. I remember having a lot of apps that had issues in 1507 that were mostly resolved with 1511. Programs that were designed for Windows 7 and weren't going to be upgraded to 10 without a charge… fortunately once 1511 came out, we didn't have to pay for a code upgrade. None of my programs needed any change for even 1507, but these did for some reason. </p><p><br></p><p>To this day, the best thing for me about Windows 10 is not having to deal with activation. Once the PC is activated, I can blow away the drive completely and reinstall without typing in a key… plus swapping hardware gives no BSOD like it did in Win7. So, enjoy Win7. Much like 98 and XP before it, it will eventually get phased out. Hopefully one day they'll give us a replacement for NTFS to support larger drives because they're going to hit the limit one of these days.</p>

    • ZeroSynk

      02 April, 2018 - 2:56 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#258748"><em>In reply to NT6.1:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Windows 7 is still fine, but no one can deny Windows 10 is a faster and better performing OS overall. If your a PC gamer like myself the differences are easily noticable between the two. Windows 10 can also be navigated faster than 7 once you take the time to learn the shortcuts.</p><p><br></p><p>Windows 10 is pretty solid as well.</p>

      • NT6.1

        02 April, 2018 - 6:03 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#258822"><em>In reply to ZeroSynk:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Windows 10 is rock solid, when it's not annoying the fuck out of you. There's also a lot of bloatware on Windows 10. You can set a Windows 7 installation in 5 minutes, where Windows 10 take a lot of time to remove stuff we don't use or care, annoyances and take the control back overall.</p>

  • jhoff80

    02 April, 2018 - 11:43 am

    <p>"Rarely-used features like My People and Near Share have been updated,"</p><p><br></p><p>For what it's worth, Near Share is new to RS4/1803 . But I agree it'll be rarely used.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      02 April, 2018 - 12:05 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#258749"><em>In reply to jhoff80:</em></a></blockquote><p>Actually, it was in the previous version. </p>

      • jhoff80

        02 April, 2018 - 12:21 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#258753"><em>In reply to paul-thurrott:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>They added it in 17035, which was an RS4 build.</p><p><br></p><p></p>

  • madthinus

    Premium Member
    02 April, 2018 - 12:29 pm

    <p>The ssh tool has also been included in this release. Plus they insisted on adding an Edge iconto the desktop.</p>

  • bennett_cg

    02 April, 2018 - 12:32 pm

    <p>The output in the Diagnostic Data Viewer is JSON, not XML. Are both formats available for export/viewing, or is there just a mis-match in how this got labelled?</p>

  • Michael Sorrentino

    02 April, 2018 - 2:02 pm

    <p>And I just wasted half my spring break trying to get my Dad's 30 GB Dell laptop to install 1709 :(</p>

  • MikeFromMarkham

    02 April, 2018 - 7:13 pm

    <p>You state that most people will never interact with Timeline and that it's hidden in an obscure interface. Sounds like something that should be turned off by default, or at the very least offered as an on/off choice so users know it's there. </p><p><br></p><p>However, when I asked your colleague Russell Smith at about it, (, he said it was turned on by default. </p><p><br></p><p>And even though Smith denied it, it sure seems to me that Timeline exhibits a lot of the characteristics of a keylogger, or at least yet another attempt to slurp up more user data without being honest and up-front about it. </p><p><br></p><p>If most users will never use this, why is it turned on by default? Have Microsoft learned nothing yet from all their privacy handling mistakes with Windows 10 so far? </p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

    • SherlockHolmes

      Premium Member
      02 April, 2018 - 10:46 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#258918"><em>In reply to MikeFromMarkham:</em></a></blockquote><p>Actually there is much that should be turned off in Win 10 by default. </p>

  • wright_is

    Premium Member
    03 April, 2018 - 2:19 am

    <p>Is there any way to turn off the translucency effects? Such effects give me blurred vision and headaches.</p>

    • RickEveleigh

      Premium Member
      03 April, 2018 - 11:28 am

      <blockquote><a href="#259029"><em>In reply to wright_is:</em></a></blockquote><p>Looks like Settings &gt; Personalisation &gt; Colours &gt; Transparency effects = on or off</p>

  • Alex Haddock

    03 April, 2018 - 2:45 am

    <p>I’m still happy with the 6 monthly cadence and hope it continues (sorry Paul 🙂 , then again I’m not testing each build over multiple pcs and rings…ouch).</p><p><br></p><p>Agree this one seems about “the right” amount though. Went straight from 1709 clean build to 1803 “RTM” on Fast when it was released and even without the new enhancements mentioned it was definitely the quickest one yet to deploy and install for me; thank goodness none of that “wait whilst we setup your apps”. If Microsoft keeps up this standard of smaller update that still gives a nice fresh feeling to the OS then I believe they are doing the right thing.</p><p><br></p><p>Alex</p>

  • simont

    Premium Member
    03 April, 2018 - 12:24 pm

    <p>Hopefully they update the Surface Pro/Surface Book/Surface Laptop recovery images to 1803 soon. Otherwise its a pain doing all the updates if you need to redo the laptop.</p>

  • techguy33

    03 April, 2018 - 1:13 pm

    <p>It's 2018 and to get a multi-tab file explorer you still have to use a third party app?</p>

    • Saxwulf

      03 April, 2018 - 1:29 pm

      <blockquote><em>Place your taskbar at the top of your screen.</em></blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote><em>In reply to techguy3</em><a href="#259180"><em>3:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p>

      • TheFerrango

        02 May, 2018 - 1:25 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#259192"><em>In reply to Saxwulf:</em></a></blockquote><p>the unsung hero we all need</p>

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