Windows 10’s Redstone 5 update is scheduled for release in fall 2018. This major upgrade includes tabs for almost all your applications, a clipboard history that syncs between your devices, and a long-awaited dark theme for File Explorer.
“Sets” Brings Tabs to Every App
The new Sets feature is the biggest change in Redstone 5. Almost every window on your desktop now has a tab bar, and you can combine tabs from multiple different applications in the same window.
This means Windows finally has File Explorer tabs, but Sets offers a lot more than that. For example, you could have a window containing a Microsoft Word document, a Microsoft Edge web page, and a File Explorer tab. You can drag and drop these tabs between windows, and there are keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+Windows+Tab for switching between them.
Sets works with almost every traditional desktop application, every universal application, and even Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Desktop applications that have their own custom title bars don’t support Sets. For example, applications like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, iTunes, and Steam don’t have Sets tabs.
Alt+Tab Now Shows Tabs, Too
Microsoft has changed the way Alt+Tab works. Sets tabs and even Microsoft Edge browser tabs appear alongside your open windows when you press Alt+Tab. You can restore the old Alt+Tab behavior if you want to see only windows when you Alt+Tab.
This change doesn’t affect applications like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, which use their own custom type of tab. However, if Chrome and Firefox ever enable support for Sets tabs, their tabs will appear in the Alt+Tab switcher, too.
Clipboard History and Sync
Redstone 5 gains some powerful new clipboard features, as well. There’s now a clipboard history that you can access by pressing Windows+V. You can optionally synchronize this clipboard history between your devices, giving you a clipboard that synchronizes itself between your PCs. You also can sync manually by clicking an icon in the clipboard popup, preventing Windows from synchronizing potentially sensitive data like passwords and credit card numbers.
In the future, Microsoft will add support for the cloud clipboard to its SwiftKey keyboard for Android, iPhone, and iPad. You’ll be able to copy and paste between your phone or tablet and your Windows PC.
A Dark Theme for File Explorer
Microsoft has added dark theme support to the File Explorer context menus, including the context menu that appears when you right-click your desktop. There’s also a new dark theme for the standard Open and Save file dialog windows.
Search Previews in the Start Menu
The Start menu’s search feature, also known as the Cortana search feature, now has search previews. When you start typing to search for something, Windows now shows you a preview pane with more information about your result.
For example, if the Start menu decides a web search is the best result for your search, you’ll see Bing search results right there in the Start menu. If you search for an application, you’ll see options like “Pin to Start” for that application. You’ll also see a document preview if Windows decides a particular document on your PC is the best result.
Along with this change, it’s no longer possible to disable web search in the Start menu via Group Policy.
A New Screenshot Utility With Annotation Tools
Windows 10 now has a slick new screen clipping tool. You can use it to take a screenshot of a section of your screen, a single window, or your entire screen. Once you’ve taken a screenshot, the new Screen Sketch tool lets you draw on it and add annotations, including arrows and highlights.
This clipping tool appears when you press Windows+Shift+S to open it. However, there’s a setting under Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard that makes the new tool appear when you press the Print Screen key on your keyboard.
Mobile Broadband Improvements
Microsoft is transitioning to a new “Net Adapter” driver framework in Windows. This will improve connection reliability for PCs with mobile broadband (LTE,) whether they use a SIM card or USB modem.
This new driver isn’t enabled by default yet, so you’ll have to go out of your way to enable the Net Adapter driver to use it. However, it will likely become stable at some point, improving how Windows handles mobile data Internet connections.
For PCs with a cellular data connection, the Settings > Network & Internet > Data usage screen now shows the amount of data you’ve used while roaming, too. This doesn’t require the new driver.
Hidden Window Borders and More Acrylic Design
Microsoft is now downplaying Windows 10’s window borders. Instead of colored window borders, you’ll now see gray window borders that fade gracefully into each window’s shadows. However, you can still re-enable colored window borders if you want a bit more color.
This visual change is part of Microsoft’s new “fluent design” graphical style, which it has been slowly implementing throughout Windows 10 since the Fall Creators Update. You’ll see more acrylic-style Fluent design throughout Windows, including in the Windows Security application, in the Timeline, and on the Sets tab bar.
Mail Ignores Your Default Browser
Microsoft is now “testing a change” that makes the Mail app open links in the Microsoft Edge browser, even if you’ve made Chrome, Firefox, or another web browser instead the default browser you choose.
This is just part of a larger trend that sees Microsoft pushing Edge throughout Windows. For example, links you click in the Start menu’s search feature already always open in Microsoft Edge. You can use third-party software to trick Windows into opening Chrome or another browser instead.
Notepad Supports Linux and Mac Line Endings
Notepad finally supports UNIX-style end of line (EOL) characters. Specifically, Notepad now supports UNIX/Linux line endings (LF) and Mac line endings (CR.) This means you can take a text file created on Linux or Mac and open it in Notepad—and it will actually look like it’s supposed to! Previously, the file would look all jumbled up, instead.
You can even edit the file in Notepad and save it, and Notepad will automatically use the appropriate line endings the file originally had. Notepad will still create files with the Windows line ending (CRLF) by default. The status bar shows which type of line endings are used for the current file, if you enable it by clicking View>Status Bar.
Copy and Paste Keyboard Shortcuts for Bash
The Windows Subsystem for Linux runs Bash and other command-line Linux shell environments based on Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, and Debian on Windows. If you use Bash on Windows, you’re getting a feature many people have been asking for: keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste.
You can now right-click a console window’s title bar and select “Properties” to find an option that enables Ctrl+Shift+C and Ctrl+Shift+V for copy and paste. These keyboard shortcuts are disabled by default for compatibility reasons.
These keyboard shortcuts are available in all console environments, but they’re particularly useful in Linux-based shell environments where the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V shortcuts are mapped to other functions and don’t function as copy and paste.
Launch a Linux Shell From File Explorer
You can now directly launch a Linux shell in a specific folder from File Explorer. To do so, hold down the Shift key, and then right-click a folder inside File Explorer. You’ll see an “Open Linux shell here” option next to the standard “Open PowerShell window here” option.
Search With Bing in Notepad
Notepad now has a “Search with Bing” feature—why not?
To use it, select some text in a Notepad document and either click Edit > Search With Bing or press Ctrl+B.
More Useful Features and Interesting Changes
As usual, Microsoft has made a quite a few smaller changes, improvements, and fixes to Windows 10. Here are some of the most interesting ones:
- Bluetooth Battery Levels in Settings: You’ll now see Bluetooth battery percentages on the Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & Other Devices screen. This only works with devices that support this feature—like Microsoft’s own Surface Pen, for example. You will also see a notification when one of these devices is low on battery power.
- Focus Assist Improvements: Focus Assist now turns on automatically to reduce your interruptions when you’re playing any full-screen game. Previously, this feature only supported full-screen DirectX games.
- Sound Settings: The Settings > Sound screen now has a “Device properties” link for renaming youur sound devices and selecting spatial audio settings.
- HEIF Editing Support: You can now rotate HEIF images and edit their metadata in File Explorer after installing HEIF support via the Store. Just-right click an image, and then select “Rotate right” or “Rotate left” to rotate it. Metadata is available by right-clicking an image, selecting the “Properties” command, and then clicking the Details tab.
- Search in the Calendar: You can now search for events in the Calendar app. Yes, for some reason, the Calendar app didn’t yet have a search feature. Unfortunately, search only works for Outlook, Hotmail, Live, and Office 365 accounts. It doesn’t work with Exchange Server, Gmail, Yahoo, or any other IMAP calendars.
- Safe Removal for External GPUs: There’s now a “safe remove experience” for external GPUs connected to your PC via Thunderbolt 3. The “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media” for ejecting drives now shows external graphics processing hardware, too. Select the GPU to eject it. If any applications are currently using your GPU and it can’t be safely disabled, you’ll be informed which applications you need to close before trying again—just like when safely removing USB drives.
- Cortana Show Me: Microsoft has a new “Cortana Show Me” app. This isn’t installed by default at the moment, but you can install it and say things like “Cortana, show me how to update Windows” to have Cortana show you how to change various settings. If it works well, Microsoft might integrate this feature into Windows.
- Magnifier Improvements: There are now options under Settings > Ease of Access > Magnifier to keep your mouse centered on the screen. The magnifier has some new zoom levels and can zoom by 5% or 10%, too.
- Windows Security: The Windows Defender Security Center application is now named Windows Security.
Other Geeky Changes
Here are some other improvements that only geeks, developers, and system administrators will need to know about:
- Firewall for Linux Processes: The Windows Defender Firewall can now define firewall rules for any Windows Subystem for Linux (WSL) process, just as you can for Windows processes. For example, if you launch an SSH server or web server, you’ll see a firewall prompt asking if you want to open a port for outside connections—just as if you launched the same server on Windows.
- Protected Processes for Antivirus Software: Antivirus programs must now use a “protected process” to register themselves with the Windows Security Center. If they don’t, they won’t appear in the Windows Security user interface and the Windows Defender will stay enabled side-by-side with the antivirus software. This should encourage antivirus developers to adopt protected processes. Protected processes only allow trusted code to load and are better protected against attacks, so this will improve operating system security.
- Windows Defender Application Guard Improvements: The WDAG feature that allows users of Professional and Enterprise PCs to run Microsoft Edge in a protected container has been improved. It now launches faster. System administrators can also enable a Group Policy setting that will allow users of the protected Edge browser to download files to the host file system.
- Microsoft WebDriver Installation: The Microsoft WebDriver software for automated testing of websites in Microsoft Edge, is now installed via Windows 10’s “feature on demand” system. It’s automatically installed when you enable Developer Mode, too. This means that Windows will make it easy to install the appropriate version for your device, and Windows will automatically keep it up to date.
We’ll keep following Redstone 5’s development process to stay on top of all the new features and changes before its release sometime in Fall, 2018.
Microsoft said it was simplifying the naming process with Windows 10’s April 2018 Update. So, if Redstone 5 is released in October or November, we can probably expect the final name to be Windows 10’s October 2018 Update or November 2018 Update.