Windows 10 Creator: The road now and where to?
Windows 10, dubbed by Microsoft as the last version of Windows, has evolved meaningfully over the years since its first release in July 2015. Microsoft has released three feature updates for Windows 10 in the last 2 years and is going to start rolling out the new Windows 10 Creators Update (version 1703) to millions of PCs all around the world today — taking the OS one step further.
When Microsoft introduced the Creators Update, the company mostly focused its presentation of features towards people who create things with their Windows 10 device. The Creators Update, however, brings something for almost everyone. If you are a developer, there’s something for you in the Creators Update. If you are a gamer, there’s something for you too. If you just use your Windows 10 device for web browsing and entertainment, the Creators Update has something even for you too.
The Creators Update is supposed to be a minor upgrade to Windows 10 when compared to last year’s Anniversary Update, but there’s still a considerable number of features in the update just like most of the previous Windows 10 feature upgrades. In this review, we are going to give you a closer look at some of the biggest new features in Windows 10, ranging from a new Paint app, and even the new Share icon.
3D is the main focus for Microsoft in the Windows 10 Creators Update. The company is adding two new apps to Windows 10 that will allow users to create 3D content, one of which is the new Paint 3D app.
The Paint 3D app lets you create 3D objects and make something truly unique. You can create 3D objects using Paint 3D, and share them wherever you like. For instance, you can literally create a 3D dog, cat, or even a fish in the Paint 3D app. You can then change the color of the object, or add different stickers to it. There’s also an option that lets you create 3D text objects, and the position of the objects in the 3D environment can be changed using a very intuitive UI from within the Paint 3D app. Oh, there is a VERY neat feature that lets you see your creation in full 3D right in the app, too.
Paint 3D is really cool – if you know how to create awesome things, that is. But if you are trying to create something with your mouse, you will have a hard time. Paint 3D is mostly for devices with new Windows technologies, such as the Surface with its pen and Samsung’s Galaxy Book with its own corresponding stylus. If you don’t have a Surface Pen or a similar stylus, you will have a tough time creating 3D content with your mouse and keyboard on Paint 3D.
Overall, Microsoft’s Paint 3D is a lovely app with a stylish design, but the lack of keyboard and mouse functionality will have most turning to the old-fashioned Windows Paint app.
But what’s so great about Paint 3D is Microsoft’s Remix3D platform. Remix3D is basically a platform where users can share their 3D creation. If you find something interesting in Remix3D, you can “remix” it and add it to your own 3D project. For instance, the image you see above isn’t my own creation – I honestly couldn’t draw something good with my mouse. Instead, it’s a 3D project made by combining other people’s work from Remix3D. Remix3D is literally the backbone of Paint 3D, and it is what makes creating 3D content with Paint 3D special.
PAINT 3D IS NOT FOR THE MASSES
However, the unfortunate thing for most people though is that Paint 3D just does not work well on a desktop or a classic Windows 10 PC. Creating things with Paint 3D can be really fun if you have one of the modern Windows 10 devices that include a stylus or a touch display. You see, that’s the real problem with Paint 3D: it’s not for the masses. This will likely change over the next couple of years as more people start buying the new Windows 10 devices but for now, it probably won’t grab a lot of people’s attention. Microsoft thankfully isn’t forgetting about the majority of its customers and you will continue to be able to use the good old Paint app on your Windows 10 device after installing the Creators Update.
Mixed Reality is a big part of the Windows 10 Creators Update. This feature is perhaps one of the biggest new additions to Windows 10 that’s coming with the Creators Update, but you likely won’t be able to try it out just yet.
The new Mixed Reality experience in Windows 10, which Microsoft is simply calling the “Mixed Reality Portal” allows users to experience and use Universal Windows Platform experience in a mixed reality environment via the forthcoming head-mounted displays (aka Virtual Reality headsets). The Mixed Reality Portal essentially allows users to use and experience UWP applications and games in a holographic environment, similar to the Microsoft HoloLens.
Instead of the HoloLens, you will have to use the upcoming HMDs from Microsoft’s OEM partners to use the Mixed Reality Portal. OEMs like Dell and Lenovo are building new HMDs for Windows Mixed Reality, and you will be able to use those for the new Mixed Reality Portal in Windows 10.
We were able to try out a simulator of the Mixed Reality Portal in Windows 10 that provided us with a pretty good idea of how it works. When you enter the mixed reality environment, you will be greeted with a holographic start menu from where you can open UWP apps like the Windows Store, Microsoft Edge or Movies & TV. The simulated Mixed Reality environment even has a virtual theater where you can put apps like Movies & TV and watch a movie that you bought from the Windows Store.
WINDOWS MIXED REALITY REQUIRES A LOT OF WORK
It’s neat to be able to use UWP apps in a mixed reality environment, but it isn’t really that useful currently. It’s a “fun” experience, though. However, the simulated environment also had its own issues – for instance, the trees and the house itself in the simulated environment were astonishingly low in quality. The sea water was completely still, and trees weren’t moving at all. I know I am nitpicking here but for a Mixed “Reality” environment, these are the basic things you would hope Microsoft to incorporate, but that, unfortunately, is not the case here. UWP apps were also pretty slow in the Mixed Reality environment, and interaction with keyboard/mouse and the Xbox One controller simply isn’t intuitive. For instance, when you open an app like Movies & TV app, you can no longer control your point-of-view and move around the mixed reality as the controller is focused on the app itself which is a bit irritating. It is possible these issues only occur in the simulated environment, and we are really hoping things are better on the Mixed Reality HMDs that are coming out later this year.
Mixed Reality clearly isn’t ready for prime time in the Windows 10 Creators Update, but we will likely get to see major improvements to the feature with the upcoming Windows 10 “Redstone 3” upgrade that’s coming later this year. We’ll have a closer look at the Mixed Reality environment when we get our hands on the new HMDs, and we’re hoping these issues won’t appear in the “real” thing. So, keep an eye on MSPU for more on Windows Mixed Reality.
MICROSOFT IS BETTING BIG ON MIXED REALITY
Mixed Reality is going to be a huge player in the future for Microsoft and Windows. Mixed reality is expected to be the future of computing, and Microsoft’s early work is going to significantly help the company in the future. It is quite incomplete at the moment, but Microsoft has shown us in the past that it is capable of making things radically improved with future updates. The software giant is betting big on Mixed Reality, but whether Mixed Reality will actually take off remains to be seen. I personally don’t think we will be using Mixed Reality devices in real-life anytime soon, and it will likely end up being a product that serves a niche market for Microsoft. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see where mixed reality goes.
Gaming is also a huge part of the Windows 10 Creators Update which isn’t surprising to see as Microsoft has been focusing heavily on gaming in Windows 10 since the start. The company is still hard at work pushing the Xbox Play Anywhere program, and it’s introducing two new features to Windows 10 which play major roles in closing the gap between Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One.
Firstly, let’s talk about the new Game Broadcasting feature. Microsoft is adding a built-in game streaming feature into Windows 10 with the Creators Update that lets you stream any game you want without needing to install any extra software. The new Game Broadcasting feature is powered by Beam, an interactive broadcasting platform which Microsoft acquired last year.
BUILT-IN GAME STREAMING IS REALLY COOL…WHEN IT WORKS
Streaming a game is simple – all you have to do is open up the Game Bar (Win + G) when you are in a game, hit the broadcast button and it will let you start broadcasting the game right from there. You can also stream your webcam along with the game itself, and disable things like microphone recording and webcam preview on the stream if you want. Once you start streaming, you can enable/disable any of these settings and read the chat right from a tiny preview that shows up over the game you are playing. The streaming quality is fairly good in Windows 10, and there’s barely any delay in the stream which is literally the best thing about Beam.
What is worrying, however, is that Game Broadcasting is like a bumpy ride on the countryside. In our case, we had to restart our PC twice (!) to get Game Broadcasting working and from time to time you may get bizarre issues like “The game you are trying to broadcast does not support game recording”. Furthermore, the Game Broadcasting dialog closes by itself when you click outside of the dialog to work on something else during the initial stream setup which is going to be annoying if you have a multi-monitor setup. Additionally, you can’t reply directly to comments from the Game Broadcasting preview now but that’s something we hope Microsoft will add in the future.
The second feature that’s coming to Windows 10 is a new Game Mode for gamers with PCs that aren’t super powerful. As the name indicates, Game Mode allows you to get a faster gaming experience as Windows 10 will allocate your PC’s memory and GPU resources to the game itself when Game Mode is enabled – rather than prioritizing other apps that are opened in the background. To be exact, when Game Mode is enabled, games will be able to use 80% of the cores on your PC while the other 20% will be utilized by other parts of the system. According to Microsoft, Game Mode can offer up to 5% improvement in the framerate on games.
As a result, your games get the main “focus” of your PC’s resources and that results in a slightly improved performance. The improvements aren’t anything significant, yet they are still quite noteworthy. In our testing, we didn’t see a huge improvement for games like Forza Horizon 3 and Halo Wars 2. But if you have a PC that just about supports a game and it doesn’t have powerful hardware, you may see noticeable improvements for intensive games like Battlefield 1 or Gears of War 4 which require more resources.
And that is what’s so good about the new Game Mode – it isn’t restricted to Windows Store games only. If you download a game from Steam or even EA’s Origin, the Game Mode will still support those games which is laudable, as a lot of game publishers aren’t really jumping on the Windows Store just yet.
Gaming having a dedicated page on the Settings app in Windows 10 should give you a good idea of how big the update is for gamers. As I stated earlier in the review, the Windows 10 Creators Update isn’t only for creators – there’s a lot for gamers, too. Gaming on Windows 10 is getting better and better with every update, but Microsoft will have to polish out the Game Broadcasting feature as soon as possible because at the moment the initial setup isn’t a pleasant experience.
Microsoft Edge is where Microsoft added a whole lot of things with the Creators Update. From the browser’s rendering engine to the browser itself it has picked up many new features that will make using Edge a much more pleasant experience for users.
Firstly, Edge now supports a full-featured book reading experience. Microsoft is adding support for EPUB files to Edge with the Creators Update, and that ties in nicely with the new Book store on the Windows Store. Microsoft Edge and Windows Store works together to offer this native book reading experience – you can buy a book from the Windows Store, and read it on Microsoft Edge without needing to install any other extra tools.
MICROSOFT EDGE HAS A POWERFUL NEW BOOK READING EXPERIENCE BUILT-IN
The book reading experience in Edge includes the basics – for example, you can see the Table of contents on a book with a single click of a button. There’s also a neat search function that lets you search for specific terms and even a virtual bookmark feature that will let you bookmark certain parts of a book.
The book reading experience is however actually pretty powerful – there’s a Read Aloud feature that will automatically read a book aloud, and you can also customize the look of the book reading experience. Microsoft lets you change the theme of the experience, and you can also play around with the font settings. Neat, right?
MANAGING A BUNCH OF TABS ON EDGE IS A LOT MORE EASIER NOW
Moving on from the new book reading experience, let’s talk about the improved Tabs in Edge. Microsoft is introducing two new tab management features to Edge with the Creators Update that the company claims will help you deal with all the tabs you have opened. Firstly, there’s a new Set Tabs Aside feature that lets you set the currently opened tabs aside – so that you can get back to at a later point. With this feature, you can quickly save a group of tabs to browse later and it’s a pretty nice addition that will be useful when you are researching something using Edge. And lastly, there’s a new Tab Preview feature which basically gives you a live preview of all the opened tabs when you hit the expand button. Both of these new features are nice additions to the browser, but I wish there was a shortcut which would let you quickly show tab previews.
There are a lot of new additions to Edge with the Creators Update – for example, the Import feature has been improved, you can now run a downloaded file without requiring to save it, the Web Notes feature now utilizes the Windows Ink APIs, there’s support for WebVR, Web Payments and you can also now open an incognito window right from the jumplist in the taskbar.
All of these are some really nice new features for Edge, but the new book reading experience is really the biggest new addition. Whether users will actually read books on their PC or tablet remains to be seen, but at this point you can’t really get a Windows 10 tablet that would offer a good book reading experience like Amazon’s Kindle.
Support for WebVR and Web Payments are also two noteworthy new additions to Edge, along with all the other minor new additions and enhancements for the rendering engine of the browser. But again, Web Payments and WebVR are quite far from being mainstream – and don’t hope to be able to use Web Payments on your next Amazon purchase anytime soon.
MICROSOFT EDGE IS STILL LAGGING BEHIND GOOGLE CHROME
With the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft Edge continues to evolve – but users still need to install a whole OS upgrade to get simple new features on the browser which is really disappointing to see. I mean, you need to install a new OS upgrade to get features like Set Tabs Aside which could have been added with a simple app update for Edge. But that’s not the case at this point, and that’s causing Edge to lag behind some of the big boys in the industry like Google Chrome.
Google releases updates for Chrome almost every month, adding new features and improvements to the browser – Microsoft, in contrast, only released two major upgrades to Microsoft Edge last year. And for a new browser like Microsoft Edge, this is something it simply can’t afford to do anymore as it’s still missing a lot of features when compared to Google Chrome — nearly 3 years after it was initially introduced. As I have recently written, Microsoft needs to bring Microsoft Edge to the Windows Store for the browser to succeed.
Cortana is getting a lot more powerful with the Creators Update. OK, it’s not a massive upgrade – but the new additions are quite important. The major new feature in the Creators Update for Cortana is the new Pick Up Where You Left Off feature.
This feature is mainly for users with multiple Windows 10 devices – what it essentially does is sync apps between your Windows 10 devices. So, for example, if you are reading an article on your Windows 10 laptop, Microsoft Edge but you want to continue reading it on your PC – you can simply turn on your PC, and open the exact same article by opening Cortana.
CORTANA’S PICK UP WHERE YOU LEFT OFF HAS A LOT OF POTENTIAL
Even if you don’t own multiple devices, you can still take advantage of this feature as Cortana will keep track of all the apps you frequently opened recently. For instance, if you use Photoshop a lot, Cortana will have a quick shortcut to the app on its Pick Up Where You Left Off section which is what I call “seamless”. And if you use apps like Microsoft Word or any of the other Office 365 apps, you’ll see quick shortcuts to your recent files and documents. The feature isn’t completely flawless, though – sometimes when you click on a document, it opens up Office Online even if you have the Office apps installed on your PC which is a pretty annoying issue at the moment but something which Microsoft should be able to fix with a server-side update. But one of my biggest gripes with Pick Up Where You Left Off is the fact that it’s only locked to users in the United States.
In addition to Pick Up Where You Left Off, there are a couple of other enhancements to Cortana. For instance, the personal assistant can now shut down, restart, or lock your device. It can also change the volume of your device, and “intelligently” detect the music app you intend to use by looking at your previous habits.
There’s also a new idle mode in Cortana that will automatically enable a new full-screen UI that makes it easier to use Cortana with your voice when you are slightly away from your PC. This feature automatically gets activated when your PC is idle for several minutes, and when you say, “Hey Cortana”, it will open in a full-screen UI that’s optimized for long-distance reading – similar to how Cortana already works in the lock screen.
The enhancements coming to Cortana are rather important for Windows 10 – they aren’t anything groundbreaking, but if you frequently use the personal assistant on your Windows 10 PC, you are going to like the Creators Update quite a lot.
THE DESKTOP EXPERIENCE
Microsoft made a lot of improvements to the actual desktop experience in Windows 10 with the Creators Update, this includes things like the Start Menu, the Action Center, the Settings app, and more. These changes are not anything game changing, yet they are significant when it comes to improving the day-to-day experience of using a Windows 10 PC.
YOU CAN FINALLY CHOOSE A CUSTOM ACCENT COLOR IN WINDOWS 10
Firstly, let’s talk about the new and improved customization features. You can FINALLY have a custom accent color for Windows 10. For the past few years, users were limited to using the preset colors that came with Windows 10 – the range of available colors were pretty decent, but getting the perfect accent color for your PC was still difficult. But now with the Creators Update, you can create your own accent color and use it on your device. Microsoft has also added a neat color picker for the custom accent color feature, where you can essentially choose a color you like. If you are an advanced user, you can simply enter a hex color code or play around with the RGB/HSV values, too.
This new customization feature takes Windows 10 a step further in terms of personalization. It is not a huge feature by any means, but it is something I and a lot of other users have been waiting for. Being able to choose any color to use on your device is really neat, and the color picker makes it a lot easier to pick the exact color you want.
Moving on to the Start Menu in Windows 10 — there’s a small new customization feature here, too. Don’t fret though, there isn’t any major overhaul happening. Microsoft is, instead, adding a couple of new features to the Start Menu to make it somewhat better.
Firstly, you can now create folders of tiles on the Start Menu. This feature has been available on Windows Phone for a while now, but it’s now on PCs too and what this basically allows you to do is create a folder of live tiles on the Start Menu. Clicking on the folder will expand it and show all the tiles inside it, and you can customize the placements of the tile within the folder by dragging-and-dropping them.
Another neat addition to the Start Menu is the ability to hide the All Apps list on the side. If you are like me and use Cortana/Search to open apps rather than using the All Apps list to find and open apps, you might like this feature as it completely removes the All Apps list from the Start Menu. As a result, you only get to see the app tiles on the Start Menu which makes it look a lot cleaner.
Microsoft is also making some improvements to the Settings as per usual. The company is still far from removing the classic Control Panel, but with some of the previous Windows 10 updates it is modernizing more settings in Windows 10 and bringing them over to the Settings app. The Creators Update isn’t any different, either. Firstly, there’s a new dedicated page for Gaming settings, and there’s now a central place to control everything related to apps from the new Apps page. Microsoft has even upgraded the Bluetooth device setup experience, which feels a lot more streamlined than the old experience.
In addition to this, there is a new Troubleshoot area under the Update & Security section that lets you find and fix problems related to the different parts of your PCs – these are just shortcuts to the old troubleshooter in Windows, so Microsoft still has a lot of work to do in truly modernizing the Control Panel.
Security is a significant part of the Windows 10 Creators Update. Unlike some of the previous updates, the Creators Update does not bring a lot for users but it still brings some key improvements to Windows that will help users keep their PC more secure.
For the IT Pros, Microsoft is adding a lot of improvements to Windows Upgrade Analytics that will help IT Pros easily analyze their systems using deep insights gained from telemetry data. Microsoft is also including a whole range of new improvements to Windows Defender’s Advanced Threat Protection that debuted last year with the Anniversary Update. To sum it up, the Creators Update is pretty exciting even if you are an IT Pro or a security person. It is important to note that I didn’t get to try out these features made for IT Pros, so I wouldn’t really be able to comment on their usefulness.
DYNAMIC LOCK IS THE COOLEST NEW SECURITY FEATURE IN WINDOWS 10
But for consumers, there are some key changes coming with the Creators Update. For example, Microsoft is adding a new Dynamic Lock feature to Windows 10 with the Creators Update that automatically locks your PC when you are away from your PC. Windows 10 achieves this via Bluetooth – you’ll have to pair your phone with your PC via Bluetooth, and Windows 10 will automatically lock your PC when your phone is away from your PC. It’s a neat feature that will make sure no one access your PC when you are away from it.
THERE’S AN ENTIRELY NEW WINDOWS DEFENDER APP
The main new change in the Windows 10 Creators Update when it comes to security is the new Windows Defender, however. Redmond has completely revamped the Windows Defender app in Windows 10, and there’s now a new “Windows Defender Security Center” app built for Windows 10 devices that offers a much more modern experience that’s a lot easier to use than the classic defender. There are 5 different sections in the new Windows Defender: Virus & Threat Protection, Device Performance & Health, Firewall & Network Protection, App & Browser Control and Family Options.
The Virus & Threat Protection is where you can perform a quick scan for virus on your machine, and Microsoft is providing a whole set of different settings that you can enable to make your PC more secure and virus-free. The Device Performance & Health section, on the other hand, gives you info on your device’s health – for instance, if a device driver isn’t performing as expected, you will get a warning. I am not quite sure why this is under Windows Defender, but Microsoft probably has some sort of explanation for that.
The Firewall & Network protection area is a bit disappointing – what it basically does is show your firewall’s status and it links to some settings that takes you to the classic Control Panel where you can control the different firewall configurations. Microsoft probably didn’t have enough time to modernize all of this, so I assume it will be a while until you will be able to control the firewall settings right from the Windows Defender app.
And lastly, the App & Browser Control section lets you control the settings for SmartScreen and Microsoft Edge’s SmartScreen, too. Additionally, you can also setup SmartScreen for Windows Store apps by checking the web content used by your Windows 10 apps which is pretty neat. Oh, there’s also a Family Options area, but once again, you can’t control any of these right from the app – instead, the app takes you to Microsoft Account’s web app which is…not so user-friendly?
Microsoft also has a new feature that will help newbie users avoid installing malware on their PCs. The new feature allows users to prevent Win32 apps and UWP apps that aren’t from the Windows Store – essentially blocking users from downloading apps that could potentially harm their PC. This feature is disabled by default for obvious reasons, and users can easily enable it if they want. When you enable the feature, you can either choose to completely block installation of apps that aren’t from the Windows Store or you can choose to offer an option that will allow you to install an app if you really want to.
PREVENTING MALWARE ON YOUR PC IS MUCH EASIER NOW
This feature still lets you download Win32 apps – but you will only be able to download Win32 apps that are available on the Windows Store. At the moment, not a lot of Win32 apps are available on the Windows Store but apps like Evernote and Slack are some of the best Win32 apps that you can get from the store. While this feature is really useful when it comes to avoiding malware, it isn’t really accessible easily. The feature is in the Settings app’s new Apps section, and that’s difficult to find – especially for the average joe who likely isn’t an expert in such stuff.
The security improvements coming with the Windows 10 Creators Update are really quite huge, both for IT Pros and consumers. The security enhancements in the Creators Update take Windows 10’s security a step further, and that is not anything surprising to see – especially since Windows 10 is supposed to be the most secure of Windows ever.
NEW SETUP EXPERIENCE
Microsoft is entirely redesigning the setup experience (aka OOBE) in Windows 10 with the Creators Update. The new OOBE in Windows 10 includes a brand-new user interface, and Windows 10’s personal assistant is integrated right into the setup experience, too.
The new OOBE experience’s user interface is much cleaner than the previous OOBE which had elements that were still following the Windows 8.x design. The new OOBE, however, features a full Windows 10 design from the start to finish and it’s purely a much better experience when it comes to the design of the new OOBE.
The best thing about the new OOBE is the fact that users can configure their privacy settings before the OS is properly setup. If you are concerned about your privacy in Windows 10, you can disable things like relevant ads, speech recognition and location tracking on the device right from the OOBE which is going to be really useful for users who are concerned about their privacy.
CORTANA IS NOW INTEGRATED INTO THE SETUP EXPERIENCE IN WINDOWS 10
The main part of the new OOBE is Cortana integration, however. Windows 10’s personal assistant is now integrated right into the OOBE and you can use your voice to setup your PC really easily thanks to the Cortana integration. When you first get into the new OOBE, Cortana will pop-up and walk you through the whole setup process in Windows 10. The Cortana integration in the OOBE is a nice addition, but it can get infuriating really quickly as setting up Windows 10 with Cortana takes a lot more time than the old method. Don’t get me wrong, the experience is really nice when you try it out for the first time, but if you clean-install your device frequently or have to setup a lot of PCs as part of your job, it might get really annoying pretty quickly.
Thankfully though, you can disable Cortana in the OOBE if you would rather user your keyboard and mouse to setup Windows 10. But turning off Cortana in the OOBE is also quite irritating as there isn’t a single button or shortcut to turn it off – instead, you will have to use the volume slider to turn Cortana off and that’s quite an annoyance. I realize that it’s just a simple volume slider, but a keyboard shortcut or button to turn Cortana off instantly would be a much, much nicer replacement. What would be even better is if Microsoft disabled Cortana by default and allowed users to enable it if they want to use their voice to setup Windows 10 instead.
Windows Store is receiving some minor new upgrades with the Windows 10 Creators Update. The new features in Windows Store are not major by any means, but they play a huge role in making the Windows Store a better app store in general.
THE WINDOWS STORE IS A LOT MORE REFINED NOW
Microsoft has overhauled how games look in the Windows Store. Previously, games and apps had a similar UI for listings, but games now have a much prettier UI. For instance, the hero image no longer takes up the whole space on the header – instead, it only takes a portion of it and the app icon and details overflows over it nicely. This change, once again, is not gigantic, but the changes make game listings a lot prettier on the Windows Store.
You can also now purchase books from the Windows Store…if you live in the United States, that is. Buying books from the Windows Store isn’t any different from buying apps, games, music and movies from the Windows Store – when you hit the Buy button, you can pay for the book via the payment methods that are already setup on your Microsoft Account. And once you buy the book, you can open it up and start reading it from the new book reading experience in Microsoft Edge. It’s very nicely integrated.
And lastly, the Windows Store now shows installation progress on the Action Center. This is also a new feature for the Action Center that allows developers to display in-line progress bar within notifications which was a much-needed addition. As for the Windows Store, when you start downloading a new game or start installing a new app, you will see its download or install progress right from the Action Center without needing to open the Store to check its progress.
Windows Store is evolving with the Creators Update, just like most of the other main components of Windows 10. The improvements contribute towards making Windows Store a slightly better content store, but it still lacks some major features such as a Wishlist – and mostly notably: a reliable search functionality.
There’s a lot of new things in the Creators Update that we simply can’t cover in a single review. Microsoft has added a lot of minor new stuff to the OS and improved some of the existing features with the Creators Update, so here’s a quick rundown of some of the smaller new features:
There’s a new night mode in Windows 10, called “Night Light.” What this feature essentially does is automatically reduce the amount of blue light produced by your computer’s display, which supposedly helps you sleep better at night. Night Mode in Windows 10 can be enabled manually from the Action Centre, you can also set it up to automatically kick off depending on when the sun sets, or you can specify a period of time during which Night Mode will be enabled every day. Additionally, you can also configure the intensity of it, so it’s basically a full-featured F.lux-alternative that’s built right into the OS.
NIGHT LIGHT IS ONE OF THE BEST NEW FEATURES IN THE CREATORS UPDATE
Night Mode is a fantastic addition to Windows 10, but it needs some improvements. At the moment, night mode kicks in with full intensity when it’s activated rather than gradually increasing the intensity over time similar to how F.lux works. You probably won’t notice this issue at first, but it can get really distracting when the Night Mode is enabled with full intensity from the get go. It would have been a much better experience if there was an option to let the intensity increase over time.
Microsoft has added a nifty little protractor tool to Windows Ink with the Creators Update. Additionally, you can now resume working on previous sketches that you weren’t able to finish which was a much-needed addition. The Windows Ink API also now powers Microsoft Edge’s Web Notes feature, so that should provide improved reliability.
There is a new picture-in-mode for apps, simply called the new CompactOverlay. Universal Windows Platform developers can integrate this feature into their UWP apps, and it essentially allows them to show an overlay window that floats over all the other apps in Windows 10. For instance, the Movies & TV app in Windows 10 supports the new picture-in-picture mode and it shows the video you are currently playing on a small overlay that shows up on top of all the other apps in Windows 10 when enabled.
WINDOWS UPDATE WILL NOW TAKE LESS TIME TO INSTALL HUGE UPDATES
Microsoft is introducing a new Unified Update Platform (UUP) for Windows Update in Windows 10 with the Creators Update that will make the upgrade process a lot faster. When Microsoft releases the next Windows 10 update, users on the Creators Update won’t have to download the whole update – instead, only the required files will be downloaded, so UUP works like delta updates. As a result, users won’t have to download a 3-4GB update – instead, they will only have to download 1-2GB which is really nice. There are some other key changes in Windows Update – for instance, you can now pause updates for up to 7 days, and you can now set Active Hours for up to 18 hours, too (which was a much-requested feature).
A NEW SHARE UI
Microsoft is finally upgrading the Share feature’s design in Windows 10 which used to have the classic Windows 8 design for a while. But now, it follows the Windows 10 design and looks much nicer than the previous one. The new Share UI is much more user-friendly and fits nicely into Windows 10. Along with the new Share UI, there is also a revolutionary new share icon which is an interesting change, to say the latest. The old share icon in Windows 10 looked pretty nice, but the new share icon brings in some consistency when compared to other platform and it’s slightly more recognizable by newbies.
These are some of the new minor features in the Creators Update, but there are a whole lot of other smaller features throughout the OS that’s coming with the Creators Update.
Windows 10 Creators Update is a step in the right direction for Microsoft. Redmond is not trying anything far-reaching with the Creators Update, but it’s instead focusing on the small things. Because, well, small things matter.
MIXED REALITY MIGHT BE HUGE FOR MICROSOFT IN THE FUTURE
Major new features such as Paint 3D and Windows Mixed Reality are not supposed to be mainstream yet – they are laying the groundwork for the future of Windows which is arguably quite ambitious. These features are undeniably incomplete at the moment, but what matters the most is whether Mixed Reality becomes a mainstream product for Microsoft. It is highly likely that augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality are going to be one of the biggest technologies in the near future, and Microsoft definitely does not want to miss out on the huge opportunity if they want to dominate the future of computing. These features might sound pointless to the average joe now, but the picture will be radically different in the future — at least that’s what Microsoft is hoping.
Microsoft is obviously not forgetting about the present: the Creators Update brings a lot for consumers, and things like Night Light, custom accent colors, Cortana’s Pick Up Where You Left Off, Microsoft Edge’s tab management features, the improved Windows Update and even the new OOBE are some really neat additions to Windows 10. These new features are not perfect by any means, but Windows 10 is always changing and getting better with every update.
THE WINDOWS 10 CREATORS UPDATE ISN’T JUST FOR CREATORS
To sum things up, the Creators Update for Windows 10 is yet another meaningful update to the operating system. It does not bring anything ground-breaking — and that’s perfectly fine, but it brings small new things throughout the whole OS to make the experience much better for users. The Creators Update makes Windows 10 a lot more refined, and it lays the groundwork for what Microsoft sees as the future of computing. There is no doubt that Microsoft still has a lot to do in the future – but that is really the whole purpose of Windows 10 and Microsoft’s Windows as a Service plans: it’s always getting better.