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Windows 10 'Redstone 4:' What to expect in Microsoft's next big update

Windows 10 Cloud Wallpaper
Windows 10 Cloud Wallpaper (Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 10 Redstone 4 development is now well underway internally at Microsoft, which means it's time to start poking around to see if I can find out what Microsoft is planning for its next major release of Windows 10. Here's what I've learned so far.

Release date

Microsoft itself has already stated that it plans to release two feature updates to Windows 10 each year, one in March/April and the other in September/October. Considering the next scheduled update is March/April 2018, we're expecting Redstone 4 to be finalized sometime in March 2018 with an official release in the month after.

Features

Timeline and Cloud Clipboard

File this one under totally obvious, but Microsoft is planning to debut both Timeline and Cloud Clipboard features with Redstone 4. Announced last year, these two features were originally going to show up in the Fall Creators Update, but were cut at the last minute.

Timeline is a glorified recent apps screen that shows the user all the apps they've opened on their device and other devices that are signed in with a Microsoft account. You can see apps you've opened through time, open them with a single click that puts you exactly where you left off. It works across Windows 10 PCs, iOS and Android.

I believe Timeline will be another CShell element, similar to the new swipe keyboard found in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Microsoft will slowly be introducing more CShell elements over time, and Redstone 4 will see that trend continue.

Cloud Clipboard is a feature that many people are excited about, allowing you to copy text or a document and have that copied item saved to the cloud for pasting on other devices. This will be optional of course and will work across Windows 10 PC, iOS and Android too.

Fluent Design in the Windows Shell

Microsoft announced earlier this its new design language called "Fluent Design System" that will be implemented in Windows over the next several releases. We're already seeing small bits of it show up in the Fall Creators Update, and I'm told Redstone 4 will see Fluent Design show up in the Windows Shell a lot more.

My People improvements

My People in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update at best looks unfinished, and that's because it is. I'm told My People will be getting some love in Redstone 4, with an updated design that more closely matches what Microsoft unveiled back in October last year.

The My People feature in the Fall Creators Update is only there so that developers can start working on integrating their apps with it. Its UI isn't final, so expect to see some good things on that front.

Cortana

As always, we're going to see Cortana get smarter with a new release of Windows 10. Abilities such as being able to set a wallpaper, find lyrics, help with shopping and a whole lot more are being worked on for Redstone 4. Microsoft is also working on a new chat-based Cortana UI, however, I'm not sure if that will be ready in time for Redstone 4. We shall see.

And more

There's a lot more in the works for Redstone 4 from what I'm told, and of course, more things are being added to that plan all the time. Expect to see more improvements to Microsoft Edge, new Pen and Ink features and improvements, Windows upgrade improvements, and more enterprise-related features.

Improvements to the Windows Shell is what I'm most excited about with Redstone 4. Fluent Design is going to make Windows 10 look pretty, and hopefully closer resemble that of what Microsoft unveiled in its concepts.

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.

43 Comments
  • Meh. Maybe they should be working on making it a FAR more functional tablet OS. The nuts and the bolts are FAR more important than features, and I find the tablet functionality to be half-baked at best.
  • Improvements in tablet functionality are most certainly one of the things that are on hold (mostly - one could argue new touch keyboard in FCU counts) while Microsoft rebuilds Windows Shell with Composable Shell in mind, so you can probably expect them to ramp up on those once it's finished for the most part.
  • most certainly one of the things that are on hold
    "Most certainly"? How the heck do you know? Its staggering how random people make such proclamations with no actual knowledge or proof and just trot out the latest buzzwords and named savior.  Before it was Continuum, now its all WOA and CShell and when those dont deliver I bet there will be yet another one invented. Ridiculous.
  • How the heck do you know? 
    I work with IT and, thus, know how software engineering works, that's how. Improvements in tablet functionality are Windows Shell related, you can maybe weave a new bit here and there while you massively refactor (that is, rewrite) the Shell source code with Composable Shell in mind but it's simply counterproductive to make a real effort during it because a) it would take human resources that could've been used to further Composable Shell's development, and b) there's no guarantee the new code would remain functional as the shell refactoring goes on. As yes, Composable Shell IS in active development. As WalkingCat's tweets below show, Creators Update already got a few bits of the shell rewritten with Cshell in mind, and many more rewritten bits will come with FCU: https://twitter.com/h0x0d/status/825026914129580032 https://twitter.com/h0x0d/status/828463878010843136 https://twitter.com/h0x0d/status/870574738606669824 https://twitter.com/h0x0d/status/870783819862786049
  • I agree 100%. I know features sell and get you excited about new upgrade. But since these are bi-annual, They should have one concentrated in features/minor calibrations to OS, and one full of OS under the hood enhancements, like making the OS leaner and meaner, "seem faster", longer battery life, stability, more and improved APIs for apps, tablet functionality, etc. I mean, talking about Onecore, they still can't make Windows 10 work for IoT, like WindowsCE could.
  • Loads and more added all the time = more delayed till RS5
  • what features to expect in RS4 ? read RS5 features. 
  • Im not sure what they are doing with cortana..
  • She will have more artifical intelligence built-in.  She will be able to carry what seem like conversations with the user.  She will be able to easily find things on a website like Amazon and help you buy that item.  She will work with Amazon's Alexa so they can help you make quick Amazon purchases.  Cortana will be able to find lyrics to songs, have better abilities to work with Groove Music, help you do more housekeeping type stuff on your computer.  Ideally she would be able to clear system temporary files, clear your junk files, empty your desktop trashcan (not the one in your kitchen lol), shut down your PC, run a PC health test, and run virus scans as well as other tasks that would seem impossible without Artifical Intelligence.  Eventually Cortana will be a fully functional BOT.
  • As long as they keep Cortana BOT exactly like the one in Halo I am all for it.
  • Place your bets now on what gets pushed to the next "big update"..... Plus, thats it?
  • Most of these were aimed for RS3, so it seems likely they will rollout with RS4. And, no, that's probably not it. This is Zac's speculative list based on information he has now. For each RS release there have been a few surprise new features tha appeared during the development. It's still extremely early with RS3 not even being live for another month. But based on past experience, some of those new features that have not yet been revealed (so not those above) are likely going to be aimed for RS4 and pushed out to RS5.
  • Given their recent track history of either pushing features out of the release or shipping a buggy, placeholder version of them, I won't expect to see msot of these until RS5 or 6.
  • The Ignite conference is in less than two weeks. I'm sure we'll hear a lot more about RS4 in the keynote, including stuff that hasn't been discussed previously.
  • I agree, we definitely will.  They will probably talk about how it will pair nicely with the new devices coming later this year (like they usually do).  Then they'll release new hardware in October that will be best suited for this next Windows release.  Then, when that is available come late Spring (probably) it'll be in time to launch the next Surface Pro and Surface Laptop which will fully be built to utlize those RS4 features.  Though I have a feeling they may move on from the RS naming convention as we move farther along on this update.  I'd expect if they execute the updates and enhancements to Windows Shell and impliment the c-shell then I'm sure that will be enough for them to call it something else.  I mean afterall, we can't have a Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Spring Release... as an update name...
  • Not that sure, maybe they don't want to talk about RS4 before the deployment of RS3, that would make sense. But I hope I'm wrong
  • Not particularly exciting, is it?  I never liked Aero, and I feel the same way about Fluent.  I MUCH prefer the cleaner, flatter look of Windows 8.  I turn off as much of this annoying stuff as possible.  The cloud clipboard MIGHT be nice if it actually works worth a darn.  Time will tell.  As for the People thing, I don't like anything on my task bar (because I don't use the task bar).  I don't keep anything on my desktop, either.  It lives on my Start Menu or remains in the All Apps area.  The People app works perfectly fine for me.  Finally, regarding Cortana, I've written on this issue many, many times.  I rely on Cortana on my Lumia.  I prefer hands free use over all else.  I want the Iron Man experience.  Cortana is in no way close to that because Microsoft STILL doesn't get it.  Cortana is unique entities on the Xbox, the PC and the phone.  Cortana has almost no clue about its other "selves" on these devices.  They are unique front ends that happen to share, sort of, a back end.  Microsoft absolutely MUST figure out how to completely integrate the Cortana experience when MULTIPLE DEVICES ARE IN PROXIMITY.   1. Cortana should UNDERSTAND every single question/command regardless of device, EVEN if that particular device is incapable of satisfying the request 2. If Cortana is configured to listen and respond on multiple devices, they should ALL immediately be able to recognize when the same command was given by the same person at the same time---this requires that Cortana needs to do a MUCH better job of recognizing MY voice versus someone else's (which it currently doesn't, regardless of how much training it gets) 3. When multiple devices receive the same command from the same person at the same time, Cortana needs to either recognize that a particular device may be the ONLY one that can actually execute it (as in some Xbox commands) OR it needs to ask you to clarify which device to respond through.  Example: "Hey, Cortana, what's the weather like tomorrow?".  Cortana: "Which device would you like this on?"  Me: "On my phone". Cortana (on my phone ONLY): "Got it, here's the weather tomorrow".     4. Similarly, Cortana needs to allow you to INCLUDE where you want a particular request executed as part of the command when multiple devices can hear you and could respond.  Example: "Hey, Cortana, volume up on my phone" or "Hey, Cortana, open Netflix on my tablet". I don't understand why Microsoft can't seem to understand this.  The technology is here.  Cortana COULD function a lot like Iron Man's Jarvis.  It NEEDS to if Microsoft has any hope of Cortana doing well against Alexa.  There's no way I'm buying yet another piece of hardware.  It's just stupid. I have every flipping device in my house using Cortana and they are ALL always listening.  There's no excuse for me not being able to interact easily already.
  • Do you use the same Microsoft account on all of these devices? Have you allowed Cortana to have full learning access?
  • @Scubadog I hear you about the Cortana comments - they talk a lot aboit it's "AI" but it has not quite "got it" yet - and my gripe is MS generally about some stuff it has for defaults (hide known file types in File Explorer- really - then tell people to avoid .EXE files)! I am surprised you dislike desktop icons! I have used them ever since 3.1, and always found them useful. I know that from the early days of W95, a lot of people with low-end desktops thought that having more than a dozen on the desktop screen affected performance, but that does not apply today. My wife INSISTS I have desktop Icons for all her common file areas, as she HATES messing with File Explorer (the old "where do I find my files" issue).
  • Your ahead of the program here. Marketwise, these devices are not on the market as of this time. I guess though you might be onto something that will futuristically be problem. 
  • I just want them to work on making it feel less like a beta. I'm enjoying Windows 10 but there's always something that feels unfinished about it, especially when using it on a tablet like the Surface Pro. There's still no singular vision for it and it still doesn't know whether it wants to use modern or legacy settings and everything feels a bit of a mish mash.  
  • Where is the PHONE? Forget this kitty crap. Fire Satya for being a moron and IT person afraid to have a Microsoft PHONE? Don't need morons at the helm at Microsoft. Need a PHONE now.
  • They need a phone maker willing to use this OS. My Samsung Windows phone was pretty good, as well as the Nokia one.  Both were better than Apple and more secure than Android.  I really like my Lumia 950XL and don't need a new phone yet.  I always found plenty of good utility apps, and don't play many games.  Banking apps never came. Still, they have killed all those relationships as well as their relationship with the biggest carrier in the US (Verizon). I tried to move my Lumia to Verizon and they refused.   A few years ago when a friend was showing off his new iphone with Siri, to search for information, I demonstrated the same function with my Samsung Windows phone with better results. It made no difference because the Apple bias was too strong. Continuum is still not fully functional, fine for Office apps, but video streaming apps are not supported.   If Microsoft wanted to have a phone, they could buy some Samsung, HTC, or other hardware and put Windows on it, but the press would still say there aren't enough apps.
  • apps = software. Hardware is absolutely useless without software.
  • How can RS4 be the "next scheduled update" when RS3 hasn't come out yet?
  • #justmicrosoftthings  
  • Still no switch of telemetry option and still no kill cortana option.  
  • I would need that and complete control over updates before 10 can even be an option to consider.  That would be a good start, but there would still be a lot of work to do, from a desktop perspective.    I want the ability to remove (not just disable) every 'app' and anything that uses Modern, UWP, Fluent, or whatever you want to call it as a "design language."  Cortana, Edge, Windows Store, Settings "app," all of it has to go (and that would mean returning all lost functionality to the control panel).  I don't use touch screens, so none of this is an improvement; Windows already had a UI designed for mouse and keyboard, and that will continue to be just fine for me.  Moving from a UI designed exactly for my usage paradigm to one that aims to be a master of all trades (in order to accommodate dissimilar form factors I don't care about at all) is not an upgrade, and universal-fit items (whatever they are) are always inferior to custom-fit ones.   I... don't anticipate migrating to 10, needless to say.  Every new announcement of this half-year's upgrade misses the basic (glaring) deficiencies and instead adds more useless garbage that only serves to increase the distance between where the product is now and where it should be.  It just gets worse and worse... each new announcement more cringe-worthy than the one that came before it.  Does MS understand the difference between an OS and a social-media website?  The stuff they're talking about has no place being part of the OS... if people want to run such things on the OS by choice, that's fine, but it makes no more sense to build this fluff into the OS than it would to build an office suite into systemd (I know, don't give them any ideas). 
  • I have to use Windows 10 as windows 8.1 do not work correctly on my computer, I get a memory managment error now and again and a BSoD, so I had to go for ten. I do not know if this is something MS have done to stop people using older versions of Windows on newer hardware or just something to do with my hardware, it did get better when I updated the UEFI, but still crashed now and again. I know Ms have put a block on updates for Windows 7 and 8.1 on new cpus like the Ryzewn, which i have got.  As for Windows 10, cortana can be done away with, but it would be nice if there was a proper option to do it, most of the apps can be got rid of, including the store, using the powershell, but you can use thrid party software like ccleaner whihc is easier like I have. Edge you can not get rid off, but I never see it, just like I never saw internet Exploder on older versions of Windows. MS idea to split the control panel is a pain, they should have either kept to the control panel or go with the settings, this is one of the reasons I class windows 10 as not being compleated and we are the beta testers. I agree that there are a lot of stuff on windows 10 that do nto make it better, in fact some just get in the way in my opinion, MS really should make it easier to get rid of stuff we do not rerquire.. 
    Look at this Story remix thing, is it really needed? Just a gimmic, fine if people want gim micks, but all I want is something to show photos like a preview, so give us the option Ms, stop shoving rubbish like Story remix in our face. My main problem with Windows is the telemetry, while there is software that say they stop it I wonder if they do, still even if it stops some of it and giove false readings to MS, that is not a bad thing.    
  • End-to-end encryption?
  • Mobile stuff? LOLNOJK
  • Mobile will probably get a new wallpaper and another ringtone.
  • and then you'll see atleast 10 Jason Ward articles justifying how its all part of the big picture and how its a good thing.
  • How about HomeHub? Other "Continue on PC"-like scenarios (for music/video/etc) - i.e. "Project Rome"? Improvements to Mixed Reality Platform? And ARM support, is that on a different kind of versioning scheme? Is RS4 going to be a smaller update to basically pick up on some stuff, because they are actually focused on C-Shell and Andromeda? As in: C-Shell/Andromda won't happen until RS5 at the earliest? Or maybe they will shift to a different code name than Redstone once C-Shell is ready?
  • The moment when Microsoft's front is arid desert for some time now. Absolutely nothing for the general public to get excited by. Places like this website and such have nothing to write about (except Jason Wards imagionation essays). I am starting to feel this site is becoming more and more obsolete for daily visiting, even weekly. Sad
  • Sounds about right. Not sure about Cortana. I'm looking forward  to see more improvements of the tablet experience in rs4.  
  • I hope they bring back the START button.
  • One should be able to install and use basic Cortana functionality (using currently supported languages without changing location, locale or language of OS) everywhere, in all countries, Windows and Android.
  • I just want apps to be upgraded directly from the store and MS should end all this yearly upgrade BS. I just use edge , why do have to wait half an year for a ******* upgrade.
  • They said it will be done. But the main problem with Edge is that the EdgeHTML (the rendering engine behind the Edge app) is a part of the system and is available for every app that needs a webview embedded. Of course apps can have standalone rendering engines (e.g. Chromium) but using one requires a lot of development effort because it's not natively available. Probably their solution will be to unplug the app from the engine and deploy it as any other app that uses a webview, but the engine itself will only be updated in major OS releases. The same can be applied to Cortana and its cognitive services and app integration.
  • There's a "business/corporate" version of Windows 10 without the vast wasteland of gadgets, gimmicks, advertising telemetry/spying, and just plain junkware. A lot of us actually use our PC hardware for things other than spending 90% of our time playing games and seeing how many "likes" we can get and posting "selfies". I want to be able to buy that version and avoid the 2 hours it takes to "clean up" windows 10 and get rid of the "features" I have zero use for. How about it, Microsoft - can we get an "adult" version of your flagship OS, or do we just have to revert to Linux to get some relief from the silliness that permeates your "all things to all people, including advertisers, operating system?
  • Because many of us "adults" accept that change is a good thing, and many of these features indeed become of use, and don't sit here in the comments section whining about things.
  • @chazz986: If you want the "no frills" version of Windows 10, you want the Enterprise LTSB version. It has no Cortana, no Edge, no OneDrive, no Store and no Apps installed of any kind except a basic calculator. It doesn't even have a photo viewer, you would need to supply your own. And, if you get the "N" version of LTSB, it doesn't have Windows Media Player or it's codecs either. It's a "strictly business" edition and is only upgraded once every 3 years. Current version is 2016. It does get monthly updates (bug fixes, security patches) but no feature updates. It is supported for 10 years. If it weren't for this edition, I wouldn't be able to tolerate using Windows 10 due to the constant changes and "upgrades" which often mess up your settings or throw unwanted junk into your OS.