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What's new with Tablet Mode in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update

With the Windows 10 'Anniversary Update', Microsoft is making strides in improving the somewhat lacklustre tablet experience found in the initial Windows 10 launch back in July of 2015. To many users disappointment, the original Windows 10 launch had a very poor tablet experience, with a lot of the old Windows 8.1 tablet features being removed.

With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft has re-introduced a few Windows 8.1 tablet-esc features alongside a number of other improvements and features that make using Windows 10 on tablets much more bearable. There's now the ability to hide the taskbar when using apps, an improved Start Screen and Apps List, lock screen improvements and a whole lot more.

You can expect to encounter those chances and more when the update ships on August 2nd. It's great to see Microsoft working hard on bringing back and improving already implemented features, with Tablet Mode being one of the few features that definitely needed improving.

I think Tablet Mode users are going to be pleased with the upcoming changes, as many of them felt left-out when Windows 10 launched in July, only to find the Tablet Mode experience had been hurt rather badly.

What do you think of all the new and improved features coming in the Anniversary Update for Tablet Mode? Let us know in the comments below!

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

87 Comments
  • Still not good enough.
  • Most people would take this opportunity to elaborate on what isn't good enough, otherwise the statement seems incomplete, or unnecessary.
  • Yeah... One could easily write such a comment off.
  • Feature parity with 8.1 is a good place to start
  • They have made a lot of improvements since Win10 launch (gesture nav in Edge, task view swipe down to close or swipe to sides to snap, full screen all apps, two full size tiles per column, auto-hide taskbar, etc.). I'd like to see the ability swipe on start screen to get to all apps. The addition of a brightness slider control. Option for quick action Start button in action center and time in action center since I use the tablet with taskbar hidden. I'd like to see apps have the ability to snap smarter like Win 8.1 where clicking a link on Twitter would reduce the Twitter app to 1/4 of screen and give the web browser 3/4, instead right now all apps snap 50%. In general I'd like to see a cleaning up of the Start screens L-shaped icon clutter and the addition of Tile folders as we have on Mobile. Windows 10 at launch was unusable on a tablet, the anniversary edition is much improved and actually useable, but still not as good as Windows 8.1. If they keep improving it may be as good as 8.1 in a year or so. Performance is still not as smooth on same hardware, but that might be due to the addition of Cortana and Action Center. However Windows 10 Mobile's performance on a phone is much smoother than Windows 10 on an Atom tablet and they both have Cortana/Action Center.
  • They need to make it more like Windows 8.1 was, particularly by including 1. swiping in from left to quickly cycle between open apps, and by 2. redoing the Action Centere to be more like the Charms Bar. They also need to bring back Metro IE. It's the only browser that works well on touch-screen tablets.
  • I fully agree with Metro IE.  Edge browser needs a touch based version. It is not condusive to tablet browsing. I agree with both you and Neo Nuke that the features that went missing from Windows 8.1 would make tablet mode in Windows 10 a lot better. I really liked the swiping from left and having the list, although I do not mind the multi window view it currently brings.   I really miss the 8.1 start screen and its horizontal scrolling, I felt that it just worked better for widescreen devices.  Also swiping up to show the All Apps section felt more natural to me.   I'm over the Charms Bar, and find the Action center to be a good start, but give me absolute control over what I see, and how much I see. For instance, give me the option for how often I see a notification regarding emails. I get a lot, and don't need it popping up constantly, however I don't just want to turn it off.
  • Edge gets touch gestures in Anniversary update. Works fine for touch browsing now, if you're into that. That said, I overall agree that 10 has been a massive disappointment precisely because it took so many steps back away from where 8.1 was already at. That's especially true on phone.
  • The only touch gestures are swiping for forward and backward. It doesn't change the fact that Edge is still not very touch centric when it comes to adding, closing, or switching between tabs. As well as other navigational items.  IE 11 for touch screen was the perfect browser for tablet browsing.  I'm currently on the Fast ring, and still find Edge to be lacking in touch navigation.
  • I agree it's not as well done as IE11 on 8.1, and they still haven't returned features we once had, such as tab syncing. Still, it's a hell of a lot better than it was, speaking of the most recent fast ring builds :). Honestly, I wish they'd bring Ballmer back. Nadella is an idiot.
  • Right, because unifying hardware, getting one version of Windows, giving more control to the teams, these are all things that an idiot CEO would do.  Underestimate the power of competitors, stagnate on one product, and keep innovation to a minimum are the things a smart CEO would do.
  • Unifying hardware was already in progress when Nadella took over, as was getting to one version of Windows, as was giving more control to the teams. That's how we got universal apps in the first place. The process was slow, but it started with Ballmer, not Nutella. It's fair to say Ballmer underestimate iPhone, though not Google. But Ballmer's regime innovated far more than Nutella's has. It was Ballmer who gave us Windows 8x, the modern UI, the start toward a unified OS core and universal apps. No, things didn't move as fast, but at least he wasn't a halfwit who took a platform that was at the peak of its popularity, finally gaining some half decent respect, and basically through it on the floor and stomped it as this idiot did with Windows Phone.
  • Universal Apps are Metro 3.0.  Metro (Windows Phone 7) -> RT (Windows Phone 8.x, Windows 8.x) -> UWP (Windows 10, Windows Mobile 10, etc.) It's the same strategy as before, rebooted once more. The volatile developer story and fragmenting of the Windows App Development ecosystem is a big reason why I moved to Macs.  The ecosystem there is a lot more Stable than Microsoft's. Windows is like the Facebook of Operating Systems these days.  It's constantly in flux, with random changes popping up at random intervals. I have no interest in universal apps.  I mind as well save a ton of cash and buy a ChromeBook to run Android's superior app ecosystem if I'm going to go down that route.  It's not like I use any of the vestigial Win32 Monopoly apps anymore (Office, Adobe CC, etc.).
  • It's not rebooted, it's just moving forward. Do you know what a "reboot" actually is? The Windows app ecosystem is not fragmenting, and that's the most ridiculous claim I've yet heard from a Mac troll.  On the contrary, Universal apps are collapsing the ecosystem into a contiguous whole; even x86 apps will soon be able to be easily recompiled for Universal and delivered through the store. Your claim here holds no water. Further, Android's ecosystem superior on a Chrome book to the full app ecosystem on a Windows PC? What are you smoking? Go ahead and do some high end video editing on your chromebook. Open full photoshop, illustrator, premiere, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. Go ahead, I'll wait. Open them. Oh, that's right: YOU CAN'T, because they don't exist there. "Monopoly" apps? What are you, stupid? Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly on ANYTHING, much less office apps. There are dozens of competing office suites out there. Now, I grant you, none of them are as GOOD as Microsoft Office, but that's another matter. Six years ago, I went all in with Apple. Macbook Pro (2010), iPad 1, which I added to my preexisting iPhone (2008). For awhile, it was great--and then Apple's bloated OS updates ruined my iPhone, ruined my iPad, and then removed features from my Macbook. On top of that, asking for help from the "Genius" bar--arguably the most misnamed anything, ever, as it's run by mentally deficient cave trolls, apparently--lead only to lies and excuses, but no actual help. So when Surface Pro came along, I traded my Macbook Pro for one and sold my iPad. I'd already abandoned iPhone by then.  Right now, MS is making some serious mistakes in mobile, thanks to the idiot Satya Nadella's near complete abandonment of the hardware side of things for the last few years. But the desktop/laptop/tablet/server OS side is humming along brilliantly and only getting better. But by all means, enjoy your kiddie toy Macbook.
  • except for the shoe fetish http://www.zdnet.com/video/the-exit-interview-ballmers-hits-misses-and-his-shoe-obsession/
  • Everyone has their quirks :)
  • I loved windows 8, but the masses didn't Ahmed Microsoft had to make adjustments closer to what society is used to. We have to realize that we're the minority, not the majority.
  • I'd like to be able to choose reactions on FB.  Can't do that consistently or reliably with touch.  Wind up with just a like, or Edge's context menu.
  • I loved 8.1, but I actually think the new task switcher, activated by swiping in from the left, is superior. Not as flashy, but it'll get you where you need to go faster.
  • I'm kind of either way on the task switcher. Win 8(.1) was OK but activation was a bit off. Sometimes the task bar would come up but not always and not reliably. Win 10 is OK but it fills the screen making it a two handed operation. Activation seems to be more reliable.
  • They also need to bring your dead uncle back to life. High-five? With one hand? Still possible!
  • The charms bar s*cked hard... The action center is way more useful. But it will be nice if they'd allow to place Edge's navigation bar (or what it's called) on the bottom of the screen. Not just in tablet mode, but also in desktop mode. Back in the days, in the XP era, there was a version of Opera, that actually did let me place any navigation element anywhere (I don't remember which one, but probably around 12.0), and I really liked it. Sadly, Opera also lost this function...
  • I already got some feedbacks related to this like swiping from the left edge to quickly switch between apps without going only to Task View. http://i.imgur.com/jJ1k30a.gifv feedback-hub:?contextid=214&feedbackid=cf064622-6e2a-4e78-97c0-c652918aad1a&form=1&src=2 I agree with having similar to Metro IE, we need that tablet-optimized browser that even people who are used to iPads and Android tablets find it much better for touch than Chrome and Safari. I don't get it why they even ditched that idea for the sake for extreme uncessary consistency without context. I'm still planning to write a good suggestions for this though but I bet there are already some suggesting this. Microsoft just really needs to looked back on Metro IE and copy it then tweaked the aesthetics to match Edge, this thing doesn't even need much explaining for them when its already exist and they the one who developed it. Though it seems MS still needs explanation as they they seem doesn't even show they knew the idea at all and lost its vision. feedback-hub:?contextid=351&feedbackid=2935942a-1f03-4842-8c1e-cf109326e4ac&form=1&src=2 feedback-hub:?contextid=401&feedbackid=b7adf7ea-b828-48c3-a497-5d0a2d566fbc&form=1&src=2
  • Here is a quick list what's bad or missing: -multi tasking list on the left to access recent apps with thumb
    -gesture to open All Apps list on Start
    -a lot of elements are now placed in the middle of the screen where you can't reach them while holding the tablet (quick jump list on Start, search on Settings ...)
    -some buttons in some apps are placed in the Title Bar and therefore hidden in Tablet Mode (reload in Xbox app for example)
    -you need the Taskbar to use the Back button. Hiding the Taskbar is therefore pointless, also apps need to have a fullscreen mode
    -File Explorer is still not great to use with a finger, there is not modern File Picker anymore as well
    -you can not access the Desktop in Tablet Mode, if you placed something on the Desktop, you will have to disable Tablet Mode and shrink your fingers
  • Here is a quick list what's bad or missing: -multi tasking list on the left to access recent apps with thumb -- This was a good idea but execution needed some tweaking. I'd often get the wrong app or have a hard time getting the bar to appear.
    -gesture to open All Apps list on Start -- Agreed
    -a lot of elements are now placed in the middle of the screen where you can't reach them while holding the tablet (quick jump list on Start, search on Settings ...) -- Agreed
    -some buttons in some apps are placed in the Title Bar and therefore hidden in Tablet Mode (reload in Xbox app for example) -- Agreed. Inconsistency is tremendously annoying though I think it is due to changes over time to the API.
    -you need the Taskbar to use the Back button. Hiding the Taskbar is therefore pointless, also apps need to have a fullscreen mode
    -File Explorer is still not great to use with a finger, there is not modern File Picker anymore as well -- Can we just make everything bigger in tablet mode? File Picker never worked well particularly with an SD card. It either couldn't find the file or had it locked so it couldn't be deleted.
    -you can not access the Desktop in Tablet Mode, if you placed something on the Desktop, you will have to disable Tablet Mode and shrink your fingers -- UUUGGGG!!!! AGREED!!! Thanks for your comments. Bill B
  • They bought Swiftkey.  A Swiftkey sliding keyboard would make the onscreen keyboard infinitely more usable.
  • Can't really say that I 100% love it, but, they've done a good job of taking our feedback and acting on it to improve what we have today. It's much more usable and readable now and less of a waste of screen space on the Start Screen. Most of the gestures work the same or better, and the previously hidden UI elements are now exposed as they should be within the apps. I'll take that as a huge success, and I can't wait to see further refinement!
  • Still better than android...
  • Yes. One thing to note is that volume sales of Windows tablets are over due Intel cancelling Broxton. Perhaps Intel's decision was partly done because Nadella made Windows poor tablet OS. 2 in 1's are also now just 1 in 1 due lacking tablet functionality.
  • looks good
  • It does. From the very first look. Really nice.
  • Will we ever get back 3 App snap view? Also, the animation performance of snapping and resizing Apps in Windows 10 its quite terrible compared to Windows 8/8.1 I really don't go into tablet view anymore because it's functionality has been reduced so dramatically.
  • Same here bro !!! 
  • All this time I belivied that I'm the only one that was suffering this. Hope they fix it.
  • Can i control it via gamepad controller ?
  • The Zac is Back!
  • I like it. :)
  • I'm really looking forward to the update and the incoming improvements although I don't think the current tablet experience is that bad. Also, there is a typo. The word "tablet-esc" was used and I read it as "tablet escape". I think it's supposed to be typed "tablet-esque". Usually I don't fuss over misspellings but this one is distracting.
  • Wait... has Zac replaced "fairly nice" with
    "fantastic indeed"?? ! !
  • What about Edge??? Does swiping left and right allow you to back and forwards in your browse history?
  • Swiping is back!!
  • Happens on mobile. Not sure about desktop
  • Yes, swiping in Edge works on PC and Mobile.
  • Yes it does.
  • Song download available? I'm interested. :)
  • Still doesn't have the same smooth app-changing animations like on the desktop mode. Absurd, after one year.
  • Why the downvotes guys. Cmon, i'm a windows and surface fanboy as much as you but cmon, this is true. Eg: 3m40s when he swipes to show all apps. There's no smooth animation like on the desktop. Same as when you chose an app in this mode, and it maximizes, it does so with an clunky fade, some times popup. No smooth maximizing like on the desktop. This is so unpolished, and it's there since the first beta i tried 1 year ago. Simply unaceptable.
  • The haters will say it's photoshopped
  • Indeed! It was even there on earlier Technical Preview then suddenly it becomes fade animation for no reason. Even Continuum have proper zoom animation on Task View/App Switcher. The fade animation really feels cheap and rather disjoint, it doesn't give any visual cue that the app/window zooms into Task View and zooms back when you click/tap it. feedback-hub:?contextid=340&feedbackid=cdbb11de-eee2-4984-a5f2-547721e0bfdc&form=1&src=2 Animations are not just implemented just for the sake of having one or because it looks cool, when used the proper animation for right action it actually improves the overall user experience, it gives a natural feeling and responsiveness to the certain action. That's why when you swipe Action Center on W10M, it slides together your finger direction is (on PC though, its unfortuantely fixed slide animation but still better than nothing or bad ones). Animations may not offer a practical purpose, but it does have a great purpose in terms of user's engagement to the system.  
  • I love windows 10 Pc. But will not upgrade my tablet from win 8.1 even though I like windows ink the rest of it is just not right on a tablet. It does not look or feel as good as windows 8.1 on a tablet and I'm not quite sure as to why.
  • Nice features here. Looking forward to use it on my Surface
  • Hopefully they add swipe writing to the default touch keyboard.
  • One thing that I've noticed on my Dell Venue 8 Pro is that the splitter for the screen now has only one position: each app using 50% of the screen. It used to be that I could have one app using 25% (or maybe it was 33%) and the other using the remaining screen. I liked that option...I could leave twitter open taking up much less screen space. That would be nice to have back. I suppose it's a setting somewhere that I've missed, though.
  • There's no setting. The snap view has been greatly reduced in functionality. The one main thing that it WILL do however is prevent any snapped app from resizing smaller than its defined minimum size. Since win10 doesn't force a 30% split view, some apps are wider than other at their smallest width, and on small devices, its likely that the smallest width is either equal to or greater than the half the width of your devices screen.
  • although I understand the UI elements in the post metro windows 10 experience, I still fell translucent or cards with hovering effects would look better on Cortana rather than the flat white look
  • Nice and A hands on video on what's new in Windows 10 Mobile would be great...
  • I use tablet mode almost 70% of the time.  All the said improvements, taskbar, inking, lockscreen, browser are most welcomed.  Onscreen keyboard could be much better an should offer a quick voice input option.
  • Do you quite often lose your keyboard when typing and hitting the space bar? Happens to me quite a lot. Seems to be the small couple of pixel gap at the bottom closes it.
  • I would like to know what's new in MS Edge!?!
  • Is there a larger start button for machines.like the Pro 4 that lack a hardware button? I still miss the charms bar.
  • I am here just to see mind f*cked windows fanboys giving downvotes to useful comments and suggestions.
  • See, I actually prefer Windows 10 to 8.1's setup. The swipe in from the left gives a birds-eye view of all my open apps, making it much easier to switch between one or another. Continuing on, the snap feature is now a part of the operating system, which I missed, so I'm happy it's there. The placeholders feature of OneDrive I actually don't miss anymore. I now use the OneDrive app for it, which better-suits my needs, especially since it's easier to use a touchscreen with an app, rather than File Explorer. I also really enjoy the virtual desktops feature. It just makes more sense to use the application that way. The changes are good, and it leads to a more-uniform Windows experience from phone to tablet to desktop/laptop.
  • They need to add touch gestures to switch between Virtual desktops, that would be helpful, and return some of the quick snap/multi-tasking fluidity that existed back on win8/8.1.
  • And 8.1 fanboys gave this guy downvotes for his OPINION... Damn, this community can be so cancerous sometimes...
  • I guess baby steps is better than no steps but to so long to come out with tablet features that I've gotten used to using touch on desktop mode. Nonetheless, the additions are welcome especially auto hide taskbar in tablet mode, even though it was released a while ago, as that was the most annoying for me. I'd like to see the option for a bigger clock in the action center, I found that handy in 8.1 for quick glance in tablet mode rather than try to focus to the small clock on the taskbar.
  • File explorer menus are a mess. Spacing between menu items is far too big. Either make it like the desktop version or give us separate tabletised touch features.
  • This is awesome. Really meaningful improvements for tablets.
  • In three words: I like it! :-) In more than three words: Zooming out from tablet-specific considerations for a little bit to look at Windows 8.1 as a whole vs Windows 10 as a whole, I -EXPOENTIALLY- prefer the way they separate out Desktop and Tablet modes in Windows 10. I've always said that my three biggest complaints with how 8 and 8.1 did it was that desktop mode was way "too tablet", tablet mode was way "too desktop", and that there was virtually no difference between the two modes. With the advent of 10, there is a clear line in the sand now. Desktop is resolutely desktop with only a hint of tablet, and tablet has likewise been scraped of most of the superfluous desktop. They have now succeeded in having two very distinct and separate experiences all in one operating system. You still have access to both modes with the push of a button, but now instead of a [too me] utterly unpleasant mucking of the waters, you have two very distinct modes which are easy to switch between in the event you need to. So HUGE win for 10 in this way. The problem is that in the original go of Windows 10, tablet mode was "not tablet enough". I liked the general layout and design of the thing (and agree with vertical orientation to bring cohesion to the whole OS), but it was just so incredibly feature poor, not to mention being really buggy. The good news is that this keeps what was good about the original Win10 design with SIGNIFICANT improvements to where it was lacking! A lot of old features are back, and the thing just has a much better, much more tablet feel and interface! To the people who say 8.1 was still better as a tablet than Anniversary update tablet mode, that may or may not be so, but let's just say it is true: a) I remain confident that it will continue to improve with future updates, and b) I think the OS as a whole is so much better than the last one that even if tablet-specific is still not quite up to par with what 8.1 was, I'll still gladly take it in the trade - the rest of the total package leaves a lot of room for grace towards tablet mode, especially considering there's no reason to believe there's not going to continue to be huge improvements. After some initial excitement over tablet mode, I came to find it uninspiring and switched my 2-in-1 back to Desktop mode. However, now I've begun to feel like it's about ready for me to go back to tablet full-time..... ......and I think it will only get better from here! :-) Cheers!
  • I like this update and thanks @Zac for the video review.
  • Not that big change but it's ok. I would like to see swipe keyboard on windows tablet cause I use it much on my 640 XL
  • This !
  • Hope it fixes the current white screen while multitasking in tablet mode. Its sooooo annoying
  • I love tablet mode. It is my default on my SP4. I'm thrilled with this update.
  • Tablet mode on Windows 8.1 was way better than Windows 10. To be frank, I was a bit disappointed with the tablet mode on Windows 10. So this will be a welcome change. If possible, kindly bring the charms bar. It was really easy to swipe the display from the right than swiping it from bottom.
  • Awesome to have Zac on wcentral!
  • @ZacBowden Could you do a side by side of a Win8, Win8.1 and Win10 machine performing the same actions so everyone can see how things used to work, and how they currently work, and where the positives and negatives are?
  • Brilliant video by Zac as always. Great to see them on windows central now. As for tablet mode, tbh, I was at first skeptical of the changes they introduced to all app list but looking at it now it seems fine. Although I must say having both tile grid and full app list side by side was more discoverable instead of this seemingly similar all app list icon on side bar. And it is important because most PC users might still need it for accessing traditional win32 programs. Also, Microsoft needs to make win32 framework more and more friendly to touch interface in order to transition people to this new paradigm of touch computing. And right now having native on screen touch pad and a stellar keyboard with shape writing and wordflow prediction might be the most necessary thing. Let's hope these will be on the manifest of post redstone 1 upgrades.
  • It's still weird to hear that "Hey there guys, Zac here for Windows Central" instead of Winbeta :D But anyway, thanks for the video ;)
  • This is great. Coming off with familiarity and aesthetic. There's always more, so let's keep enjoying.
  • "-esc" Really? Is journalism of all kinds now devoid of knowing how to spell? http://www.dictionary.com/browse/-esque
  • Haha just saw your comment after mine.... I was like "how has nobody mentioned this?!" :D
  • Not enough done for tablet mode. I still prefer Windows 8.1 on my tablet.
  • lacklustre
  • What a joke. Even the latest preview is horrible. Compared to Windows 8, the tablet mode (and pretty much everything else) sucks. Let's see... The All Apps from W8 is vastly superior: you can easily swipe up and see everything, and you can quickly sort by Name, Date added, Categories. W10 forces you to try to tap on those retarded tiny icons that can barely be SEEN. Then, there's the fact that Tablet goes AWAY as soon as you connect a second monitor! How about that idiotic vertical scrolling compared to the MUCH more convenient and intuitive horizontal scrolling in W8? Oh, and Metro apps are much nicer than UWP garbage--they move better, work better in a touch environment. And your avatar is this tiny, almost impossible to see circle, whereas on W8 it's much more obvious. And while you can have it hide the task bar (which gets it to at least LOOK more like W8) you can no longer control legacy programs (like multiple office app windows). On W8 the fact that Metro and legacy programs are beautiful separated means I can treat the desktop as its own "window" and access legacy programs normally. That's just a few of MANY reasons I could list for W10 sucking.
  • Missed you, Zac!
  • "Tablet-esque" I think you mean... :D
  • I just bought a surface 3 LTE that had 8.1 pro preloaded. I hadn't used 8.1 since the 10 launch so it was kinda fun to go back to it for little bit. But I immediately started missing many 10 features -- and after upgrading to 10, I started missing again some features from 8.1. I hope the new update will merge those experiences without compromising what we have that's useful now in 10.