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A long time ago computer software was sold on a disc or CD/DVD Rom and it remained the same until you bought a new version. With the advances of the Internet over the past years (mainly that of bandwidth) distributors are able to send a software update to you without the need for an additional purchase.

In many ways this is very beneficial. With most of our computers online this is a quick way to fix security issues and bugs. Getting a software update through the Internet is convenient and saves the need to drive to a store or order online.

There are also ecological benefits when you consider the carbon footprint of physically delivering media as well as the fact that it takes about a pound of plastic to make 30 discs. Since the type of plastic used is different from what most recycling companies can process most used discs end up in the landfill.

For all the benefits there are also drawbacks. One of the biggest complaints is the time it takes to download and install a software update. In the case of Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X as well as mobile, an update can come in and stop your work for a time while you await the install.

A second issue with online software is something called a “zero day” update. This can affect many types of software. For example, many video game systems will have you purchase a game, install it, and before it will work at all it has to download a software update. This can take an hour or more and usually happens when a distributor has to meet a deadline but doesn’t have their program finished. In this case they will produce something to put in the store but to really get the program you have to go through the full update before being able to do anything else.

Many of us put off installing updates and this can have negative results. For example, many of the updates on Windows focus on security and “behind the scenes” changes that you don’t really see. Much like building a house a lot is in the walls and you really only notice if it doesn’t work. The problem this creates is many of the viruses and malware incidents we are seeing would be reduced or avoided entirely if we were all running up to date software.

One new feature allows you easy navigation through apps and websites you had open in the past 30 days. While all browsers have a history and lookup function there is a new “Timeline” feature. The idea is to let you close your Edge browser after looking at a product you are interested in buying and then being able to recall it to show your significant other at a later time.

To get to timeline there is an icon to the left of the Windows button on the toolbar at the bottom. When you click on an app it will open to where you left off. Right now Microsoft says you will be able to access the Edge browser, photos, and maps. Third party software will be developing for this in their updates in the near future.

One thing that is important to realize is this does not require your software to be running for the past 30 days – it just keeps a snapshot of where you left off to continue. In fact I couldn’t find much of a resource reduction with this new feature.

Another feature is designed to reduce distractions. Called “Focus Assist” there is an option to view documents, like PDF’s, in full screen mode, mute tabs in your web browser, set quiet hours so you don’t get notifications like emails and Facebook updates. When you automatically exit your quiet hours or shut off the Focus Assist feature you are presented with a summary of what you missed. This would be something like “11 new emails and 5 new Twitter updates”. You can then view them at your leisure instead of having everything interrupt you throughout your work period.

When James Cameron wrote his movie he was great at predicting tech of the future. One such thing was the ability to view something on your mobile device and then send it to your desktop or laptop. This software update includes a feature called “Continue on PC” in which you can do just that.

Microsoft is and has been a leader in software over the years. While some of their products are great and others may miss the mark their naming conventions have always been a bit unusual. This update follows that procedure and is called “The April 2018” update. In addition to that name being very original, most of us will see the update arrive in May. In Microsoft’s defense the update did release on Monday, April 30.

This is a question that has more than one answer. In its most basic aspect we can see minor updates as often as once a week. These are the type that usually include “behind the scenes” changes to tighten security, antivirus software, and other things that you may never notice.

The bigger updates are twice a year. Microsoft says these “major updates” will be released in March and September. These are the type which add new functions and can affect the look and feel of your computer. The third type, like the April update mentioned in this article, can come at irregular intervals as needed but no more than once a month.

Both Microsoft and Apple are currently at version 10 for their desktop operating systems. Since Apple released 10 there have been major releases under other names but all still known as OS X. Examples have been Yosemite, El Capitan, and Sierra.

According to Jerry Nixon, a Microsoft development executive, there will not be a version change after 10. Instead new technologies and updates will be presented in the same way as the April update. It is important to note that there are rarely absolutes in computer software, so it is possible that this could change in future years.

It is important to keep your computer up to date. Even the updates that don’t feature obvious changes do keep security, virus, malware, and other concerns in check. This update presents more features and some utilities that will make your desktop easier to use. While all updates are important this one is worth doing sooner than later.

William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand. Article edited by Gretchen Winkler.