Microsoft's "Fall Update" to Windows 10, code named Threshold 2, has a lot of new tricks up its sleeve. It's the biggest update we've seen since Windows 10 was released this summer, and it's rolling out to all users right now.
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If you don't feel like waiting on the update notification, you can use the "Download Tool" on this page, then follow the instructions to update to build 1511 right now. But either way you go about it, there are lots of cool new features to explore in this update, so we'll cover the highlights below.
From a visual standpoint, Windows 10 was a huge upgrade over previous versions, but build 1511 even takes this a step further. Right-clicking items in the Start menu now yields cascading context menus with improved fonts, which is a nice touch. But perhaps the biggest visual change is that title bars will now match your color scheme with full, vibrant color—and all you have to do to try it out is tick a couple of boxes. More info here.
At its core, Windows has always been about getting stuff done—so amidst all of the fun and cool additions in this update, Microsoft made sure to work in some multitasking improvements. When you use the Windows Snap feature to dock multiple windows side by side, you'll now find a larger drag handle that can be used to re-size both windows simultaneously. For a full feature tour, check out our in-depth article on the topic.
Windows 10 has always had a strong focus on performance and speed, but build 1511 takes that mantra to the next level. Microsoft claims that this latest version boots up 30% faster than Windows 7, and it's definitely noticeable so far.
In addition to general performance enhancements, Cortana has become quite a bit smarter. The Windows virtual assistant now understands handwriting a bit better, and can decipher contact info like phone numbers and addresses directly from your stylus input. Contextual notifications are greatly improved, too, as Cortana can now notify you of upcoming events and appointments, and even offers to book an Uber when the time comes.
Microsoft Edge, the new default browser in Windows 10, has also received a little love in this update. Cortana will notify you of available coupons when browsing certain retail websites, your Favorites and Reading Lists will be synced across all Windows 10 devices, and you can finally hover over a background tab to see a preview of its contents.
Windows 10 was a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 or 8 users, but it was never possible to take advantage of this offer if you were doing a clean install. That's finally changed in build 1511, as you can now simply enter your old Windows 7 or 8 product key to activate a fresh installation of Windows 10. To see how it's done, be sure to check out our full guide.
Finally, if you've managed to get your hands on one of Intel's next-gen Skylake i7 processors, you'll be happy to know that Windows 10 build 1511 now has all of the requisite code to fully support Speed Shift optimization.
Essentially, Speed Shift is an automated governor of sorts that detects incoming processor load, then rapidly sets the CPU frequencies and voltages to match demand, resulting in "dramatically improved" performance and gain. So far, we've noticed greatly improved scrolling in resource-heavy apps, like Google's Chrome, and truly lag-free pen and stylus input, so build 1511 definitely helps Intel's 6th-gen processors live up to their hype.