How do you freshen up a venerable operating system like Windows 10, and get you to care, especially when you release an update to the software as frequently as every six months or so?
Microsoft’s approach this time around starts out with a name change, following up the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, with what the company is calling the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. It’s a rather curious name choice, in that you can’t go grab the update manually until the very last day of April. And most won’t see the update until it starts otherwise rolling out on May 8
But I digress. Microsoft says this latest iteration of Windows is still about helping you create stuff, only doing so in ways that better maximize your time. And for many of you that will indeed be a good enough reason to care.
More: Use Windows 10? Update it, then try these 5 tips to boost your productivity
On average, 40% of the company’s customers feel like they don’t have enough time to get the tasks they want done today in an efficient fashion, says Aaron Woodman, Microsoft’s general manager for Windows marketing.
And Woodman says Microsoft also wants to dispel a myth, namely that you are more productive when you’re multitasking. Instead, he says, customers are more efficient if they’re good at “task switching.”
The latest update to Windows tackles productivity in several useful, if not earth-shattering or always original ways. A new Timeline, for example, promises to make it easy for you to find stuff you’ve been working on within the past 30 days without slogging through file folders or emails. It doesn’t matter if that prior work took place on a Windows 10 PC, or through the Microsoft Edge browser or Office 365 on another computer, or even on an iOS or Android device.
Meantime, a new Focus Assist feature is meant to help you do just that, by turning off social media updates or other distracting notifications so you can squarely focus on the job at hand. According to Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for the Windows and Devices Group, the “war on (our) attention is real.”
Mehdi points out that the average amount of time folks spend on any single event at work before being interrupted or switching tasks is roughly three minutes, not counting meetings. You then need about 23 minutes to regroup after being interrupted.
You can schedule when the Focus Assist feature will kick in or turn off. Once finished with your task, you can eyeball a summary to see the notifications, emails and updates you may have missed, without being besieged by all of them at once.
Of course you can set up exceptions when Focus Assist is enabled so that the really key people you need to hear from—your boss, spouse, etc.—can contact you in a pinch.
There’s more in the new Windows—a shortcut (pressing the Win+H keys) to a dictation feature that lets you take notes, or write with your voice. Or tweaks to the Edge browser, including one that lets you silence the audio coming from a web tab, when you have multiple tabs open.
All of us want to somehow save time. If it lives up to its theme, the new Windows 10 update just might help.