What's New in Windows 10 Version 1511

by [Published on 18 Feb. 2016 / Last Updated on 18 Feb. 2016]

The first major update to Windows 10 was released on November 12, 2015. Officially, it’s called Windows 10 Version 1511, but it is also referred to as the Windows 10 November Update. Here I’ll introduce many of the new features and functionality and discuss some concerns along the way.

Introduction

Keep in mind, this isn’t a simple update. It’s more like a Windows upgrade. If downloaded via Windows Update, it’s about 3 GB. After it’s installed and the user signs in, they’ll see screens indicating the PC is completing setup. Although data is supposed to remain intact and user settings are supposed to be carried over, there might be some issues that arise.

If you’re unsure of what Windows 10 version is installed on a PC, select the Start > Settings > System > About. If the update has been installed, you’ll see Version 1511.

Activate Using Win 7, 8, and 8.1 Keys

Upgrading existing PCs from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 to Windows 10 with a clean install is now much easier. Prior to the 1511 update, you had to do an in-place upgrade to Windows 10 to take advantage of the free upgrade offered by Microsoft before you could format and do a clean install. Now you can install a fresh copy and activate with your prior Windows key.

Visual and Functionality Tweaks Added

There are a various small visual and functionality tweaks in the GUI, which isn’t so noticeable. One small one is the return of colored title bars of windows, which were removed in Windows 8. You can enable/disable by navigating to Settings > Personalization > Colors, and then enabling “Show color on Start, taskbar, action center, and title bar”.

Microsoft added some snapping functionality in Windows 8 to Windows Apps, and now they’re extended to traditional application as well. For instance, you can place two apps side-by-side, like Microsoft Edge and Word, and when you resize one the other will adjust to fill the gap.

The Start Menu received improvements as well. It can handle more titles, adds the option for a fourth column of tiles, and allows you to resize titles. The apps and tiles can now also have jumplists.

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Figure 1:
Here shows how you can now have up to four columns of app titles on the Windows 10 Start Menu.

Start Menu Includes App Advertisements

Along with the improvements to the Start Menu, Microsoft made one addition that likely won’t be loved by most: occasional recommended apps appearing on the left side of the Start Menu under the list of most used apps. However, you can disable these ads, if you like. Navigate to Settings > Personalization > Start, and then disable the “Occasionally show suggestions in Start” option.

New Default Apps Installed

Three new communication apps come preinstalled: Skype Video, Messaging, and Phone. All three of the apps utilize Skype’s service, enabling video calls, text chat, and audio calls, respectively, which basically replaces the all-in-one Skype app offered in Windows 8. The Sway app by Microsoft is also preinstalled, which provides a new approach to creating interactive reports, stories, and other types of digital presentations.

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Figure 2:
Microsoft’s new Windows App called Sway to create interactive presentations.

Find My Device Enables Native Location Tracking

Similar to Android and iOS, Windows 10 now includes a Find My Device option to help find the location of a missing device or the last location of it utilizing any GPS or other location services. However, it currently lacks any remote sounding or wiping options. This feature is disabled by default, but can be turned on by navigating to Settings > Update & Security > Find My Device.

Microsoft Edge Gets Tab Previews and Syncing

The new Microsoft Edge browser gets an update too. Some background enhancements include HTML5, CSS3, and ECMAScript improvements. Two more noticeable additions are tab previews in the titlebar, so you can hover over a tab title and see a preview, and syncing of your favorites and reading list between your other Windows 10 devices you’re logged into with your Microsoft account.

Change Default App and Save Locations to Another Drive

Particularly helpful for tablets and other devices with little or full storage, Windows 10 allows you to change the default locations. You can choose where new apps, documents, music, pictures, and videos will be saved to. Navigate to Settings > System > Storage, and you’ll see the list of save locations.

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Figure 3:
Users can now set a new default storage or saving location for apps and files.

Cortana Can Do More (and Without a Microsoft Account)

Unlike before, you can utilize Cortana even if you’re logged into Windows 10 with a local user account rather than a Microsoft account. Cortana also receives more powers, including understanding inked notes, movies and other ticketed events, and works with the new Skype-powered apps.

Windows Will Manage Your Default Printer For You

Personally, I don’t think this is a well thought-out feature, but now Windows will automatically make the last printer you print to the default printer. You can disable this by going to Settings > Devices > Printers & Scanners, and disabling “Let Windows manage my default printer”.

Windows Update for Business (WUB) Gives More Control Over Updates

Though Microsoft moved to more of a Windows-as-a-Service approach with more of automatic update and upgrade process, they’ve added more control for business and enterprise users. In simpler environments, you can enable the “Defer upgrades” option on Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 by navigating to Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options, and enable “Defer upgrades”. This puts the PC into the update path called Current Branch for Business, which delays feature updates and upgrades by several months, but not affecting security patches and fixes.

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Figure 4:
Users of business editions of Windows 10 can now defer updates for several months.

In enterprise environments, you can utilize more of the Windows Update for Business (WUB) functionality via Group Policy and other management solutions to define the update delays and settings, like peer-to-peer downloading of updates. Furthermore, you can utilize the Long Term Servicing Branch update path, indefinitely stops all feature updates and upgrades but still allows security patches and fixes.

Windows Store for Business

The Windows Store for Business is a web-based portal that serves as the management platform for Windows Apps by businesses and organizations. They can make volume purchases of apps and distribute to users. They can also utilize to create a private app store for internal usage to distribute their own apps.

Management capabilities enhanced

Along with the Windows update came the general availability of System Center Configuration Manager and Endpoint Protection. There are many improvements relating to deploying, provisioning, upgrading, and managing Windows 10 PCs and mobile devices. Azure Active Directory Join also allows devices to become enterprise-ready quicker and allows you to maintain only one directory while giving users one login that can sync Windows settings and data across all of their Windows 10 devices

Security Improvements

Of course, there are security improvements to Windows 10 as well. Credential Guard offers security improvements how credentials are stored. Device Guard uses Trusted Boot to prevent installation of malware. Windows Hellobrings enterprise-grade biometrics including fingerprint and facial recognition. BitLocker encryption receives support for XTS-AES encryption.

See Also


The Author — Eric Geier

Eric Geier avatar

Eric Geier (Dayton, Ohio) is a Freelance Tech Writer and Author specializing in computer networking.