What’s New in Windows 10 Version 20H2

Posted on October 19, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 31 Comments

It seems like Microsoft only recently released Windows 10 version 2004, but the software giant should release its successor any day now. So, what’s new in Windows 10 version 20H2?

Not much in the way of major new features, which is a relief. As with last year’s Windows 10 version 1909 release, Windows 10 version 20H2 is a minor refinement of its predecessor, with six additional months of bug and security fixes and just a handful of functional improvements.

Here are the few such improvements worth calling out.

Branding. With Windows version 20H2, Microsoft is switching from the year/month-based branding of all previous Windows 10 versions to a new branding scheme based on year/half-year. So Windows 10 version 20H2 is “the Windows 10 version released in the second half of 2020,” whereas its predecessor, Windows 10 version 2004 is “the Windows 10 version released in the first half of 2020.” This is only temporarily confusing as future Windows 10 versions will use the H1/H2 branding.

New Edge installed by default. Windows 10 version 20H2 is the first Windows 10 version to actually include the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge by default. Previous releases came with legacy Edge, though Microsoft has been automatically upgrading them to the new Edge via Windows Update for the past several months.

New Alt + Tab behavior. This is, perhaps, this Windows 10 version’s most controversial new feature. Today, Alt + Tab lets you switch between all running applications and open windows, but with 20H2, Windows 10 will, by default, you can now switch between all running applications and open windows and the 3 most recent tabs in the new Edge. If you don’t like this change—I hate it—you can disable it by opening Settings and navigating to System > Multitasking > Alt + Tab. Or, you can even configure it to let Alt + Tab access the 5 most recent Edge tabs or, gulp, all tabs.

Start menu. There is a very slight visual change to the Start menu in Windows 10 version 20H2, and it’s only obvious when you’re using Light app mode: The live tiles are now more subtly shaded when compared to the Start menu background, losing a bit of definition, and the icons in the All Apps list no longer appear inside a small tile box.

Your Phone. If you provide your cell phone number during OOBE (the out of box experience) during the initial setup of Windows 10 version 20H2, the Your Phone app will be automatically added to your taskbar.

Xbox. If you have a gaming PC, Microsoft will automatically add a shortcut to the Xbox app to the taskbar on first sign-in as well.

And that, almost literally, is it.

I’ve already explained how you can install Windows 10 version 20H2 early if you’re so inclined. But with this release coming via the October 2020 Update, I assume it will be generally available soon enough.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “What’s New in Windows 10 Version 20H2”

  1. Avatar

    dstrauss

    Curious - why do Dell and HP have proprietary software to allow at least some file transfers from iPhone to their model computers, but no go in Windows 10 in general?

  2. Avatar

    earlster

    I like that ALT-TAB change, so much of my work is in a browser, and switching between browser tabs as if they are apps makes a lot of sense to me. And since it's configurable, it's the best of both worlds depending on preference.

    • Avatar

      mattbg

      In reply to earlster:

      It's a nice option, but anything I'd want to switch to at app-level is already installed as a web app with its own window and is already surfaced in ALT-TAB, so this will get in the way for me - thankfully it can be turned off.

  3. Avatar

    safesax2002

    In reply to MutualCore:

    That's laudable on Microsoft's part but the fact is that iOS requires "special sauce" code and it probably always will.

  4. Avatar

    curtisspendlove

    In reply to MutualCore:

    “Microsoft wants open standards, not some 'special sauce' code for iPhone.”


    Agreed. It’d be a PITA if they coded in a hack, then it got sealed and the app lost functionality.


    You know most people would just blame MS even though it’s technically Apple’s fault.

  5. Avatar

    michael_jones

    Just a quick note that the 3 tabs for Edge are for all open windows. So if you have more than one open windows (or one open profile, which by definition is a new open window), then you get 3 TIMES the number of windows in alt-tab. So where I have a window open for myself and my work profile, I have 6 tabs show in alt-tab.

  6. Avatar

    madthinus

    It is time to let go of the 2 a year updates. You could have rolled the start menu refresh out like they do the search UI. No one would have noticed. As for the rest, all of those could and should have waited.

  7. Avatar

    jumpingjackflash5

    It seems the end is getting closer .... I wonder when Windows 10 will follow Windows Mobile. And then we can get the recommendation to install Linux Fluent edition, or buy a Mac .... Sad times for PCs ....

  8. Avatar

    waethorn

    In reply to MutualCore:

    There's still at least 2 standards for multi-use devices like phones: MTP and MSC.

  9. Avatar

    waethorn

    Sooo....when are Live Tiles dead, again?


    After the pandemic?

  10. Avatar

    eric_rasmussen

    Any word on when WSL2 will be fixed for 20H2?

  11. Avatar

    adamstaiwan

    Isn't the Linux icon in the Explorer for WSL2? That's all I want.

  12. Avatar

    Username

    > and the 3 most recent tabs in the new Edge


    wouldn’t this be more appropriate for user’s default browser? Is such inclusion available to other tabbed applications - multi-tabbed text editor (eg. Ultraedit) or multi-tabbed PDF reader (eg. Foxit)?

  13. Avatar

    simont

    I assume it will be generally available soon enough - except if you run a surface device based on previous performance :(

  14. Avatar

    SvenJ

    Isn't its predecessor, Windows 10 version 2004 supposed to be the Windows 10 version released in the fourth month of 2000? (I know how it turned out.) Making the target the first half, or second half, pretty much assures they won't hit that.

  15. Avatar

    proftheory

    Did WSL2 get fixed or should I wait?

  16. Avatar

    kenneth_burns

    Ugh, the Alt-Tab functionality in Windows has been second nature to me for decades. I'm certain Alt-Tab is the "meta" keystroke I use the most. Does that make sense? "Meta" as in not about using letter and number keys to enter content. A major reason I dislike MacOS is that the Alt-Tab behavior is so different (and in general the keyboard support is eccentric). I'm open to having my mind blown by the new feature but I'm well north of 95% certain I will turn it off immediately.

  17. Avatar

    Paul Thurrott

    In reply to MutualCore:

    What they should want is to work well with everyone's smartphone.

  18. Avatar

    demileto

    "New Alt + Tab behavior. This is, perhaps, this Windows 10 version’s most controversial new feature. Today, Alt + Tab lets you switch between all running applications and open windows, but with 20H2, Windows 10 will, by default, you can now switch between all running applications and open windows and the 3 most recent tabs in the new Edge. If you don’t like this change—I hate it—you can disable it by opening Settings and navigating to System > Multitasking > Alt + Tab. Or, you can even configure it to let Alt + Tab access the 5 most recent Edge tabs or, gulp, all tabs."


    What are you talking about? This is an AWESOME addition, an amazing tool to troll friends who JUST. CAN'T. SEEM. TO. CLOSE. THEIR. BAZILLION. BROWSER. TABS! :D

  19. Avatar

    mikefarinha

    Bring me all the tabs!

  20. Avatar

    Fuller1754

    I'll have to see how I feel about the 3 most recent Edge tabs in alt+tab once I get the update and start using it. But theoretically it could fulfill one of my biggest wish-list items for Edge (and other Chromium browsers), which is the ability to ctrl+tab through browser tabs in most recently used order (as opposed to the order in which the tabs appear in the tab bar). If I'm working in Edge, this would allow me to keep alt+tabbing back and forth between two browser tabs, right? That might be good.

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