Like other major updates of the past, the Windows 10 April 2018 update is jam-packed with new features. Some of these features, such as Bluetooth sharing and the Timeline, have drawn a considerable amount of media attention, while other features, including the new Fluent Design and Focus Assist, have drawn criticism for being mostly fluff. Among all of these highly publicized features, however, are some other features that have not been talked about nearly as much. As such, I wanted to take the opportunity to show you some of the behind-the-scenes improvements to Windows 10.
One of my personal favorite improvements in the Windows 10 April 2018 update is that Microsoft has completely revamped its data usage settings. You can access the data usage settings by opening Settings, clicking on Network and Internet, and then clicking on data usage.
Although Windows did previously provide data usage information, the feature really didn’t do very much. You can see what the previous version of the data usage feature looked like in the figure below. As you can see, the feature basically just tells you how much data a connection has used over the last 30 days. If you click on the View Usage Details link, you can see a breakdown of data usage by application.
In the Windows 10 April 2018 update, you still have the ability to view your data usage from the last 30 days and to view the data usage on a per-application basis. However, Microsoft has expanded the data usage feature, as shown in the figure below.
Among the new capabilities is the ability to set a data limit. You can set a monthly limit, or you can even put a one-time limit into place if you want.
There is also a bandwidth throttling feature, which can limit the amount of data that is consumed by Windows Store apps and by Windows features that are running in the background.
Oh, and while I am on the subject of data usage, Microsoft has quietly added a new feature to limit the amount of bandwidth consumed by Windows Update. To access this feature, go to Settings and click Update and Security, followed by Advanced Options, Delivery Optimization, and Advanced Options (again).
The Advanced Options screen has long given you the ability to limit the amount of bandwidth that is used when updates are downloaded in the background. You have also previously been able to limit the amount of bandwidth used to upload updates to PCs on the Internet, and you can also set a monthly upload limit. Now, however, Microsoft has added an option that allows you to control how much bandwidth is used by downloading updates in the foreground.
Another thing that Microsoft has done in the Windows 10 April 2018 update is to make it possible to configure an application to use a specific GPU. The idea is that if an application is not graphically intensive, then you may be able to save power by using the GPU that is built into the PC’s system board. You can also ensure the best possible performance for more demanding applications by assigning them to a discrete GPU.
The GPU assignment setting technically works for both Win32 applications and for Windows Store apps, but my experience has been that the feature is a little bit easier to use with Windows Store apps. To access the GPU assignment capabilities, go to Settings and then click on System, followed by Display. Once the Display settings are shown, click on the Graphics Settings link. This will take you to a screen that allows you to select an application, and then assign it to use either a power saving GPU or a high-performance GPU, as shown in the figure below.
In my case, the Power Saving GPU and the high-performance GPU options are both set to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970. The reason for this is that I only have one GPU installed in this particular PC.
One of my pet peeves is applications that launch automatically when Windows boots when I have not explicitly given those applications permission to do so. As such, the Startup tab within the Task Manager has long been my go-to resource for stopping applications from starting automatically.
Although the Task Manager can still be used for this purpose, Microsoft has added the ability to control application startup to the Settings screen. Just go to Settings, and click on Apps, followed by Startup to access the screen shown in the figure below.
For whatever reason, I have never really experienced problems with the Edge browser’s scrollbars disappearing, aside from it happening in one particular Web app that I use. Even so, the topic was brought up in response to my article about my Windows 10 pet peeves. The good news is that there is now a way to keep the scrollbars from disappearing.
The scrollbar setting isn’t found in the Edge browser’s settings but in Ease of Access, of all places. Go to Settings | Ease of Access | Display, and you will find the option to automatically hide scrollbars.
Microsoft has also given users the ability to add and preview fonts through Settings. The option had previously existed (and still does) through the Control Panel, but now you can preview, adjust, and remove fonts through Settings. Just go to Settings | Personalization | Fonts. You can see what this looks like in the figure below.
Windows 10 April 2018 update: Goodbye Control Panel?
Arguably the main reason why Windows 8 was such a flop is because it seemed completely disjointed. Windows 8 was essentially two operating systems that were bolted together in a crazy, Frankenstein-like way. In Windows 10, Microsoft has done a lot of work to make the OS feel a lot more cohesive, but there are still remnants of Windows 8’s schizophrenic identity crisis scattered throughout the OS. With the new settings found in the Windows 10 April 2018 update, it seems as though Microsoft is actively working toward improving Settings so that the legacy Control Panel can eventually be phased out once and for all.
Photo credit: Microsoft