10 features everyone should try after installing the Windows 10 November update

Windows 10 marks the departure from major releases of the operating system every several years and the end of Service Packs. Instead, Microsoft has moved to a new servicing model. A model that we now know as "Windows as a Service" (or WasS) and it means that the company will release smaller significant updates as soon as they are ready and not major releases (typically) every three years. Also, with this new servicing model, Windows will no longer be considered a complete product -- just an ongoing project that will only get better with time.

These new updates will include improvements, changes, and new features, and we already had the chance to see this new servicing model when the software giant released Windows 10 version 1511 in November.

The first major update for PCs and tablets delivers a many bug fixes, tweaks, and improvements, such as compression store feature in Windows Memory Manager. Windows 10 now allows users to run virtual machines in virtual machines, changes on activation for users upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, improvements on performance and security for Microsoft Edge, and the list goes on.

And for the first time Microsoft is also delivering some new features through Windows Update at no extra cost.

Today, we'll be diving into these new features, and list 10 of the most interesting features users should check out after installing the new update of Windows 10.

If you like to know every little new detail in version 1511, I encourage you to read my previous roundup of everything you need to know about the Windows 10 November update.

Features you must try on Windows 10 version 1511

1. Make your sign-in experience more beautiful

Since the software giant released its new operating system to the public on July 29th, users on Windows 10 Home had an extra feature called, "Windows Spotlight," which is the idea of having a fresh experience on the regular basis by automatically displaying a great wallpaper on your Lock screen. Starting in version 1511, Windows 10 Pro also includes this feature that can easily be enabled through the Settings app.

How to configure Windows Spotlight

1- Use the Windows Key + I keyboard shortcut to open Settings.

2- Navigate to Personalization, then go to Lock screen, and from the "Background" drop-down menu choose Windows Spotlight.

Quick Tip: You can teach Windows the kind images you like by voting whether you like to see more of the same image on the top-right corner of the Lock screen.

Alongside the new operating system, Microsoft also introduced its new default Windows logo background made out of light, which you'll see on the sign-in screen and desktop the first time you log into Windows 10. Even though, you cannot change it, if you don't like, or you simply got bored seeing the same image every day, you can disable the background on the sign-in screen and get a solid color background that matches your theme's accent color.

Here's how you do it: While in Settings > Lock screen, simply turn off the Show Windows background picture on the sign-in screen option (refer to the previous image).

2. Get more tiles on the Start menu

The Start menu has returned to the most popular operating system on the planet, and in version 1511, Microsoft continues to improve the overall experience by adding a few new tweaks to the Start menu.

After installing the November update, users can add a fourth column of tiles, this means that you can now have four medium-sized, two large- or two wide-sized tiles per row.

Follow the steps below to fill the Start menu with more tiles.

How to add more tiles to Start

1- Use the Windows Key + I keyboard shortcut to open Settings.

2- Navigate to Personalization, then go to Start, and turn on the Show more tiles options.

Adding extra space to fit more tiles is a welcome addition to the operating system, as some users have complained of a lot of waste space between groups of tiles while in Tablet mode and when the Start menu is in full screen. Also, it's worth pointing out that Windows 10 version 1511 ups the support of pinned tiles from 512 to 2048.

3. Manage missed calls from your desktop

While Cortana comes integrated within Windows 10, it's a feature powered by the cloud and it relies on Bing to make sense of things. Microsoft has been proactively improving its personal assistant day after day, but in during the Windows 10 November update the personal digital assistant gets some important improvements. In the November update, Cortana can now alert you to calls that you missed with the ability to reply using a text message.

The feature should be enabled by default, but you have to make sure the feature is enabled on both the device you want to get the notifications and on your Windows phone.

How to configure missed call notifications

1- On your Windows 10 PC, tablet, and phone, open Cortana's settings page by going launching the search box, clicking or tapping the Notebook icon, and then going to Settings.

2- Scroll down until you find Miss call notifications and make sure the feature is enabled.

Testing if everything works, it's as easy as telling someone to call you on your Windows phone, let the phone ring, miss the call, and see the notification pop-up on your desktop.

Keep in mind that if you want to reply with a text, Windows 10 will send your message to your phone, and then your phone will send the message.

4. Quickly create reminders with a stylus

Cortana also includes handwriting recognition to allow users to create quickly reminders using a digital pen, such as the Surface Pen. The process is very straight forward, simply follow the steps below:

How to use handwriting to create a reminder

1- Open Cortana on your desktop and click the reminder icon.

2- If your computer has a touch-enabled display with support for a stylus, you will see an annotation button, just click the button and you'll get a canvas to create your reminder.

3- Click the right-arrow from the top-right corner and complete setting up your reminder.

5. Increase your multitasking productivity

If there is one feature that I'm excited about from the Windows 10 November update is the new multitasking feature.

Snap view is an awesome option that allows users to snap up to four windows on the screen. Depending on the task, we only snap two apps side by side, but often we also need one of the apps to use more screen real-estate than the other. As such, Microsoft is adding a small tweak for snap to allow users to resize two snapped apps simultaneously, putting to an end having to waste extra time trying to resize each window individually.

How to enable multiple apps to resize

The feature should be enabled by default, but you can always check by doing the following:

1- Use the Windows Key + I keyboard shortcut to open Settings.

2- On System go to Multitasking, and make sure to enable the When I resize a snapped window, simultaneously resize any adjacent window option.

5. Get Chromecast-like functionality

Microsoft Edge is the new default web browser for Windows 10, and the software giant is not only adding much-needed performance and security improvements, but also a few new features.

Similar to the cast feature you can add to Chrome using an extension, Microsoft Edge now includes a cast feature as well that allows users to cast videos, music, and pictures to the big screen in the house using any DLNA or Miracast compatible device.

How to cast media to devices

If you want to cast something to a device, such as Xbox One, simply do the following:

1- Open Microsoft Edge and go to the site you want cast content (e.g., Facebook, Pandora, or YouTube).

2- Click the Edge menu from the top-right corner of the app, click the Cast media to device.

3- A pop-up will appear listing the available devices, pick one and start casting.

It's important to note that protected content, such as from Hulu or Netflix, are not supported by the feature.

6. Get settings synced across devices with Microsoft Edge

Another useful feature that Microsoft is enabling on its new web browser is the ability to sync passwords, bookmarks, and Reading List items between devices. Just remember that you need to have Sync already enabled in Settings > Accounts and you need to be using the same Microsoft Account on those devices you want to have synced content.

How to enable Microsoft Edge sync

1- Open Microsoft Edge, click the menu button on the top-right corner of the app, and click on Settings.

2- Scroll down and make sure to enable the Sync your content option.

While syncing is a welcome addition on Microsoft Edge, this is one of those things, the software giant should have added on day one. Oh, if you're wondering, you still cannot sync tabs between devices.

7. Allow Windows to take care of your default printer

There used to be the time where you needed to tell the operating system which printer you wanted as the default for all the print jobs. However, now by default, Windows 10 controls your default printer.

If you have multiple printers configured on your computer, you can test the new functionality very easily. Simply, try to send a print job to any printer, and then test again, perhaps using another app, and the print job should now go to the printer you use the first time.

Of course, Microsoft anticipated that not everyone will like this feature, as such you can always disable the feature by doing the following:

How to disable automatic default printer manager

1- Use the Windows Key + I keyboard shortcut to open Settings.

2- Navigate to Devices, then go to Printers & scanners, and disable the Let Windows manage my default printer.

8. Ensure you can always locate your device

Windows 10 is being developed as one operating system that run across devices, including computers, tablets, Xbox, and phones and moving forward we're going to see Microsoft try to unify the experience across all devices.

For example, "Find My Device" is a great feature that was first introduced on mobile devices to allow users locate their phone in the event it got stolen or lost by letting Microsoft periodically track the location of the device. Now the same feature is also available in Windows 10 desktop, and users can easily enable it through the Settings app.

How to configure Find My Device

1- Use the Windows Key + I keyboard shortcut to open Settings.

2- Navigate to Update & security, the go to Find My Device, and click Change and enable the Save my device's location periodically option.

Then if your computer ever gets misplaced, go to http://account.microsoft.com/devices (opens in new tab). Browse for the device you're seeking, and click the Find my device link to get a more accurate location information and a Bing map to narrow things down.

9. Save space by installing new apps to external storage

Windows 10 has yet another surprise. Now users can install apps to external storage, such on a microSD, USB drive, or secondary hard drive. We have seen this option in the past, but the software maker wasn't ready to enable it until the November update.

While not everyone will make use of this feature, it's a welcome addition that users on low-end devices with limited storage can appreciate as they can now simply connect an external storage to enable them to get more apps without wasting the available local storage.

How to install new apps on a secondary drive

1- Connect your new mass storage to your computer.

2- Use the Windows Key + I keyboard shortcut to open Settings.

3- Navigate to System, then go to Storage, and under Save locations change the settings of New apps will save to to the new external storage.

That's all there is to it.

10. New communication apps powered by Skype

Windows 10 version 1511 also installs a few new apps, including Messaging, Phone, and Skype Video. These are now the new default communication apps users will be using in Windows 10. But don't get too excited as the apps are still in the early days, and they're very minimal, and there are a lot of things that don't work, but these are a few apps you will want to give them a try.

It's worth pointing out that Microsoft has released these apps through the Store before the release of the first major update, but now the operating system installs these by default, so they are new to version 1511.

Wrapping things up

Windows 10 version 1511 marks the first major milestone for Microsoft offering "Windows as a Service" and even though it's not perfect, the company is delivering on the promise of making the operating system better as time goes on. The November update not only brings new features and apps but a handful of improvements and changes that makes the overall experience better. Of course, there is always room for improvement.

Do you have any favorite feature from Windows 10 version 1511? Let us know in the comments below.

More resources

If you want to see about Windows 10, make sure you check these resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

90 Comments
  • First thing I did was removing the default log in background.
  • I'm just about to- it's off centre, non modern and I just don't like it. Personal taste, hah. Great article Mauro, thanks :)
  • Thanks :-)
  • It's good to see another Arrow/Flash fan here :) another thing to have in common beside windows :P
  • Flarrow :)
  • There you go :-)
  • Flarrow!
  • Daredevi ftw, but flarrow is still awesome
  • ^THIS. But Arrow is getting worse over the seasons.
  • Is Henry Allen is Zoom ? (from Earth 2)
  • Barry is Zoom
  • That's my guess as well. 
  • The Messaging app is instantly crashing after start
  • You should create a OneDrive album that contains all your desktop backgrounds!!!!!
  • you should bing wallpaper - be amazed that not just one person in the world has wallpapers..
  • can you create a folder on your OneDrive and share the link below so that we can start putting wallpapers we have onto it?
  • The lock screen on windows 8.1 desktop uses OneDrive.
  • did they fix the battery issue with this update or no ?
  • Nope  
  • Cortana's call features only works if your phone is on Win10 mobile right? Also did you sneak an extra 5 in there?
  • An extra 5 means there are 11 great new features... Windows 11 confirmed.
  • Correct... needs a phone running Windows 10 Mobile. And yes, there are two 5's, so there are really 11 things listed and not 10. Buzzfeed does this kind of thing all the time too.
  • I've got this weird issue where the storage settings will tell me my hard disk (SSD in my case) is around 500 GB than it actually is. When you go to see what takes up how much space it tells me the system takes up over 500 GB. Everywhere else the size of my disk is output correctly. Anyone else with this issue and maybe with ideas how to fix it?
  • I moved apps to my sd card but then they didn't work. I tried moving them back but ended up having to uninstall and then install again. They also didn't work when I installed apps directly to my sd card. =/
  • I think the developers have to add that feature to the apps before you can move them to the SD card.
  • Messaging does not seem to work for me. It shows all my converstions from other devices and skype but when I try to respond through messaging it responds simply "cannot send".
  • Great article - always useful to check I've not missed something and I always learn something new - thanks Mauro :)
  • No problem, Thanks for the feedback.
  • I can't do anything following the update because my start menu, taskbar, Cortana nor any metro apps work. Yet to find the right solution on-line.
  • The answer from Sharath Srinivasa in this thread might address the issue.  If it doesn't, get on a chat with MS - they can get  remote access to your computer to troubleshoot this a lot quicker than you probably can. I did a bunch of this over the weekend when upgrading my sister's computer. Unfortunately, in her case, the user profile had gotten corrupted and we had to undertake a slightly bothersome chore of creating a new user account and migrating data and settings to it. But that solved the Start menu/cortana/apps etc. issues. To get a chat with MS support, go this page and at the bottom, under "Get More Support" click on "Ask Microsoft Answer Desk" MS support here has been awesome in my experience.
  • The third method in the post worked for me when I first installed windows 10 and had this issue. Great link!
  • Trying the install for the fifth time now, stops after 'installing features and drivers' I've pulled everything from the usb's so hopefully it'll go through properly. Was no bother doing my tablet though
  • Ballin' Update!
  • My Skype and Messaging app does not pick up my Skype Contacts.  Instead, it tells me to search for people in my contacts that are on Skype, NONE of which are the Skype contacts I already have synced to my contacts in Outlook.  It gives me suggestions of other folks that I don't care to sync with because they aren't on my Outlook contacts.  This is the same for my Surface 3 and my Lumia 1520.
     
  • I believe those apps are in Beta form. I don't think Microsoft should of even released these.
  • Best Windows 10 article writer on this site!
  • http://wmpoweruser.com/microsoft-says-more-devices-that-have-iris-recogn...
  • I would like to be able to change the color of the top window bar only, and not the task bar and start screen. Otherwise, this is a very solid update!
  • Why does Skype Messaging has that black title bar?
  • Anybody having issues installing on a tablet? The install process always gets stuck at 40% installing drives 23% for me.
  • If you have any SD cards installed, remove them and try again.
  • Just remove the SD card, restart the Surface and your install should go smoothly.
  • BTW, if using that SD card for OneDrive using the directory hack, switch to the VHDX (better than VHD) hack instead. More work to set up and have auto-attach on startup, but ultimately works better.
  • Installed fine for me, but had all kinds of issues afterward. Most notably, my accelerometer didn't work, so I had to go into settings to change screen orientation. That's no way to live, so I just rolled back to the previous build.
  • I have a problem with this November update. I'm unable to connect to corporate wifi (enterprise security) so it's downgrade not an upgrade.
  • You may have to enable fips
  • Missed call notification is great, I just used it for the first time a few minutes ago at work, BUT... bare with me. I was at a conference table in my office using my Surface 3 for notes.  My phone was at my desk, in my coat pocket.  Missed call notification pops up on my S3 and it gave me a reply with text option, which was awesome and I used.  "Hey, I'm in a meeting, what's up?"  But I can't get my return text messages!  I got back to my desk 30 minutes later and had 8 texts waiting for with a reply to my "what's up?"  Do we know, is text messaging coming to Windows 10 too? 
  • Agree - I unexpectedly received the missed call notification and sent a text message from my SP3 - really cool.
  • About edge syncing, can edge sync IE11 data? Favorites and pass words come to mind as being handy to sync, still keep using both, but not syncing these keep me mostly on IE while edge had certain edges.
  • the enterprise version will fubar your Hyper V ethernet adapter. That was a good waste of an hour.
  • Edge sync on my 1520 does not work. Hopefully it will on the 950
  • What does the fox say
  • I have enabled 'Sync your content' on my PC, but am having problems on my phone. I am signed into my device with a Microsoft Account but when I go to Edge Settings, the 'Sync your content' option is Off and unavailable.  There is a message right below it in red saying: Some Windows features are only available if you are using a Microsoft account or work account. I am signed in, and verified.  I can download apps from the Windows Store.  Does anyone have this working???
  • I have the same problem... didn't found a fix yet.
  • Did anyone had problems with blurry live tiles after update? Mine just look awful. Text in left corner on live tile is crisp but the rest is just blurry. I've tried change scaling and it seems to work with 150% but that's too big! Anyone?
  • I had this issue when I installed windows 10 - text in Microsoft Esge was blurry for me too. I had no DPI scaling turned on as my laptop only has a 720p screen so none of the help threads online were relevant. I didn't find a fix and ended up just clean installing. It works now so it wasn't a hardware issue...
  • Already did a clean install. The same goes with my backup drive so I assume it's a hardware problem. But I have all my drivers up to date so it's bugging me a lot.
  • Same problem Here, after nov update.. SP2 with 125% dpi scaling, worst in Tablet mode, but slightly present also in desktop mode. No solution yet.. :(
  • I don't know if it was the most recent update, but suddenly Cortana is working now, even though my language / speech (UK English) is different to my keyboard layout (US English). Hurray, finally Cortana can tell me jokes on my laptop.
  • I didn't know you could resize the settings to a small one column list like that, neat!
  • I turned on Find My Device, but when you go to the microsoft website it only shows my phone and xbox.  If you try to add a device it only has options for a phone or an xbox.  Has anyone gotten  this to work?  Does it just take time for the site to be updated?
  • How secure is the password manager in Edge? I use the identity safe that came bundled with Norton security on my desktop but of course edge doesn't have extensions yet.
  • Lol did anyone not tell you Symantec leaves a backdoor open for the gvnmnt
  • Cortana still doesn't work in my country. You can tell MS hates my country because we pirate their software too much. We're sorry :'(
  • Cortana is not available in many countries. So I don't think it's hatred lol.
  • This post was really informative.. But still we can't able to use cortana feature in laptop..
  • How do I enable media casting to my Xbox One?  The only device that shows up is a Roku, which I assume must be a neighbor's (though ti seems funny to try to connect and stream ridiculous kid's shows to a neighbor TV!).  I don't see any way in either my Surface Book or XBox One to enable anything else.  What am I missing?
  • You need to make sure the video app is installed on xb1 & I believe it has to do with a system setting thats holding you back
  • Thanks for the tip; I'll give that a shot when I get home tonight.
  • There is no such such thing as "Video" app on Xbox One...
  • Well. I am not able to cast media to my Roku 3. My Roku doesn't show up.
  • Download roku media player channel that should fix it
  • All network connections and HomeGroup have stopped working since the update. The November Update has landed on my computers with a resounding thud.
  • Can't get the spotlight feature to work. It still shows the image I set prior to turning it on. I tried reseting my computer. Anyone else having this issue?  
  • Do you have internet connection? You can also vote on the picture of you're like what spotlight showing.
  • Yup I have an internet connection. Must be a bug.
  • Nice wallpaper! Can share with me? 
  • Is the Find my device feature limited to Pro users? I am currently running Windows 10 Home x64 v1511 build 10586.11.
  • I am running the Pro version (build 10586) and I don't see it either. I wonder what determines who gets this. Seems like you and I may be in the minority...
  • First Image shows Mobile like Settings view in Desktop, how to get that.
  • WasS? WasS Upgrade, surely? WasS (Not Was) to do the jingle. I'll get my coat. PS Great article.
  •   If I ever get past 83% in the update, I'll be sure to try them. Can we have a poll to see how many had a seamless update have been unable to get the 1511 update installed at all had to try more than once had to do a clean install and lose everything?
  • I'm not 100% sure this was a result of the update to 10586, but I noticed that my Outlook 2016 icon changed from a blue icon with a white "envelope" coming out of it, to a blue icon with a tan/orange envelope on top of it, which makes it much easier to distinguish from Word on the Taskbar. I had updated another computer to 10586 a few days earlier and its icon changed then too, so it seems to relate to the OS update, but it could be that in both cases, because I was just applying updates, I happened to get an Office Update at the same time. In any case: a small but much appreciated improvement.
  • Nevermind, I'm an idiot. The tan/orange envelope appears on the main Taskbar icon if there is new mail. I hadn't realized this because it's unusual for the Taskbar icons to change the core icon like that (you might see it fill with color as a progress bar, but the icon picture changing is unusual). It may or may not be new, but it goes back to the blue and white icon as soon as you open a new message.
  • 11. Go to Disk Cleanup, click on "Clean up system files" and remove those 20+ GB of the "previous" version.  
  • thanks for great article ... waiting for more ... this is 11 features not 10 ! two 5 ...
  • There is no FIND MY DEVICE option  in my desktop ... Is it only for portable devices ? i'm running latest version .. by the great article   
  • Did they return OneDrive file placeholders?
  • I have been looking for some of this info, thanks.
  • i am using the enterprise 64 bit edition of windows 10. how can i get this novemeber update..?