Microsoft's Windows 10 April 2018 Update (previously Redstone 4) is out in the wild and rolling out to users all around the world, allowing the company to focus on the next upgrade for the platform. Known as Redstone 5, Microsoft has been testing the build since earlier this year on Skip Ahead and is now releasing full previews on the Windows Insider Program.
Redstone 5 is a continuation of Microsoft's Windows as a service ethos. Unlike previous Windows versions, Microsoft runs Windows 10 like a continuous service that is improved through evolution. Features are added twice a year through major updates that have carried the Redstone codename for two years. Every month, the company supplements the feature updates with cumulative releases for security patches and fixes.
As we have seen with previous Redstone releases, there will be plenty of new features coming to Windows 10 with Redstone 5. Arguably the most anticipated is Sets, a tool that Microsoft has delayed several times but will make its debut this year. We also know the company will beef up the Game Bar, bringing tools for frame rate and performance management.
Elsewhere, Redstone 5 will make the “Your Phone” a more exciting prospect for using your phone from PC.
Those are features Microsoft is already testing in the Windows Insider Program, but what about speculated new abilities? Well, we will discuss some rumoured improvements coming to Windows 10, including improvements to Windows Mixed Reality thanks to more robust sharing facilities. In fact, mixed reality may play a key role in Redstone 5 with Microsoft likely to announce the ability to experience Windows Mixed Reality without a monitor.
HoloLens will finally ship to consumers in 2019 with version 2 of the augmented reality headset. We expect Microsoft to at least discuss the hardware and bring some improvements to the current development edition.
Windows 10 Redstone 5 release date
We know without a doubt that Redstone 5 is coming, Microsoft is already previewing it on the Inside. We also know that the launch will happen sometime in the fall. Unfortunately, we don't know the exact date and we may not learn it until the update is about to drop.
Certainly, Microsoft kept the release of the April 2018 Update close to its chest until less than two weeks before it was due to launch. Of course, you remember that particular release was ultimately delayed, but the point is Microsoft does not necessarily put a firm date on a Redstone update until late.
That said, we can look back on the life of Windows 10 and get a fairly good idea of when Redstone will arrive. Microsoft has committed to a twice-yearly release for major Windows 10 updates and has so far stuck closely to a spring/fall launch cycle. The Creators Update (Redstone 2) arrived in April and the Fall Creators Update (Redstone 3) landed in October.
Considering the April 2018 Update (Redstone 4) launched in April, we think it is safe to assume Redstone 5 will drop in October. Make that early October, so expect Microsoft to start finalizing the build on the Inside during September.
For many, the rollout of the April 2018 Update has been messy. From the aforementioned delay caused by a bug, to problems with the build once it is on PCs. Microsoft is eager to avoid a similar scenario with Redstone 5. The company has said it is now using AI to help make future updates more efficient. It remains to be seen if this will work as the company claims using AI through the April 2018 Update was successful, which is not something we agree with.
Official Name for Windows 10 Redstone 5
As we have mentioned, Redstone is a codename Microsoft uses for Windows 10 preview builds, recognized on the Inside as “rs” builds. For example, rs_5 is the Redstone 5 branch for Windows Insiders. However, when the build reaches RM (release to manufacturing) Microsoft provides an official name.
In previous builds we seen the following releases:
Redstone – Anniversary Update
Redstone 2 – Creators Update
Redstone 3 – Fall Creators Update
Redstone 4 – Spring 2018 Update
Redstone 5 – ?
Like the release date, we don't expect Microsoft to put an official name to the update until very close to its release. While the Creators Update and Fall Creators Update names were known in advance, the company changed tactic this year. The Spring 2018 Update was unnamed until weeks before its official launch.
It is likely Microsoft will continue the naming trend it kicked off with the spring release. So, the obvious official name for Redstone 5 is the October 2018 Update.
Windows 10 Redstone 5 Known Features
While Microsoft may have some ace's up its sleeve, many of the major features coming to Redstone 5 are already known. That's because the company has been testing them in preview for several months, getting feedback from Insiders.
If you are on the Inside and thinking of embracing Redstone 5, it is worth remembering these are test builds that can be unstable. New features will not be the finished article and in many cases will not even function properly. There is also the possibility that Microsoft will test a feature for Redstone 5 but ultimately remove it from the build before launch.
That said, here are the features currently confirmed and most likely to arrive this fall:
Arguably the most anticipated feature coming to Windows 10 this fall is Sets. We have written extensively about this tool for nearly two years, which is when Microsoft first announced it. The company was expected to launch Sets through one of 2017's Creators Updates, but ultimately the feature was delayed.
Sets is now available in preview on the Inside. At Build 2018, the company discussed Sets and revealed it to be an important addition. The feature is essentially a universal tab system for Windows 10. It allows users to group together apps in Windows 10 tabs, similar to web browser tabs. Users can open a tab within a window by clicking the + symbol in the title bar. This will open a landing page that shows the most frequently used applications, recent documents, and a search bar.
Continued Evolution of Windows 10 Fluent Design
Fluent Design is Microsoft's new UI system for Windows 10, which was first debuted with the Fall Creators Update. The unique thing about Fluent Design is it's an evolving UI that will change and grow through each build release. New elements arrived with the April 2018 Update and at Build 2018 Microsoft discussed how the UI will evolve into Redstone 5.
More effects and features will be added to the UI. We can also expect more apps to adopt Fluent Design and start to see how the UI uses 3D dynamics to work within Windows Mixed Reality. At Build, Microsoft discussed compact modes and flyout menus, two features we are excited to see implemented this year.
Enhanced Game Mode and Game Bar
We fully expected Microsoft to boost the abilities of Windows 10 Game Bar with the release of Redstone 4. Instead the company has waited until Redstone 5 to make Game Bar a more enticing proposition for users.
The company says it is brining more options to Game Bar, finally making it something we might actually use. Under current setups, users much use a third-party program to see visualizations of GPU, RAM, CPU, frame rate and other system information. With Redstone 5, users will finally be able to see these visualizations baked directly into the Game Bar.
Improved Progressive Web Apps
Microsoft is already working with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) after launching support with the April 2018 Update. However, the company will continue to improve implementation, hopefully including more available apps that are PWAs.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web-based applications that are enhanced with modern features. They are regular web page that can be used like a traditional or mobile application. With PWAs, users get such benefits as notifications, offline working, and live tiles.
Your Phone app
Microsoft has been pushing Windows 10 as a universal platform from day one, which means it should work seamlessly across devices and form factors. Redstone 5 should help that cause with a vastly improved Your Phone experience. With the upcoming update, users will be able to use their smartphones in Windows 10 more easily.
By connecting a phone to a Windows 10 PC, users can read and reply to messages, share content, and more.
One new feature that we heard about earlier this year is cloud clipboard, which is being previewed on the Inside for Redstone 5. The feature gives Windows 10 users the ability to copy content from one app and paste it onto another on iPhones or Android smartphones. An interesting cross-platform ability, Cloud Clipboard will also work in Automatic Mode.
This means all content you choose to copy will be synced automatically. However, there will also be a manual mode. Users will also be able to choose from a list of devices for which will receive the content.