Windows 10 October 2020 Update arrives: Nothing that will drop your jaw, but we've had enough of 2020's fun surprises anyway

Steady as she goes for Microsoft as Edge turns up and Start gets a buffing

Good news for Windows fans, the October 2020 Update is here, for some people at least, and the known issues list isn't as bad as the last one.

After lurking in the beta and release preview channel of the Windows Insider program for what seemed like an age, the Windows 10 October 2020 (aka 20H2) has arrived, bringing with it Microsoft's new Chromium-based Edge browser and, frankly, precious little else.

The glorified update follows the pattern established in 2019, where a major update hit during the spring, and something that felt a whole lot like a cumulative update arrived in the autumn. While the approach might be a little frustrating for Windows enthusiasts, those looking for stability on the desktop will welcome a repeat of the approach - certainly after the mayhem unleashed by the infamous Update of the Damned back in 2018.

Things are altogether more sober this time around, and many of the toys lurking in the update are likely already on users' PCs, requiring only a flick of a switch from Microsoft to activate them rather than a bandwidth-destroying download. That's assuming, of course, those PCs are on the Nice list: as before, Microsoft is "throttling availability" and restricting devices to which the update is offered.

As for what is actually in it, other than the new Edge, there isn't a huge amount. The Start Menu has been given a lick of paint, as Microsoft gingerly applies dressings to the self-inflicted wounds of Windows 8, Alt+Tab will flick through Edge tabs as well as apps and logos on notifications will make it easier to identify where they are from.

The overall interface has been polished up a bit, but nothing that will frighten the horses, with minor improvements when the screen is detached on 2-in-1 devices, and a decluttering of the taskbar for new logins.

These "H2" updates tend to attract the attention of the commercial world since not only do they benefit from the fixes rolled out after the "H1" release, they also enjoy 30 months of servicing (longer for a Long Term Servicing Channel version) rather than the 18 months of the latter.

This time around, those commercial customers saw updates to the Mobile Device Manager (MDM) with a Local Users and Groups policy that gives administrators the same options as on-premises Group Policy, a more secure biometric sign on and beefed up protection for Microsoft 365 and Edge via the Windows Defender Application Guard.

Despite the lengthy gestation of the build (and the fact that much of the codebase is shared with May's update), there are still issues. One, where Windows throws up an error during the installation of third-party drivers, has been resolved, while others (related to Conexant drivers) remain.

Enthusiastic users wondering why Windows 10 20H2 is refusing to put in an appearance on their kit would be advised to check out Microsoft's helpful health dashboard for pointers with regard to what is blocking an update. Otherwise it may simply be a case that you have yet to migrate to Windows Update's Nice list. ®

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