Update: The rollout starts April 11th, if you haven’t been offered it via Windows Update checkout my post on how to get the Windows 10 Creators Update now.
Soon, possibly as soon as next week Microsoft are releasing the latest update to Windows 10 which is called the Creators Update. The update which was coded named Redstone 2 has been in development since September last year and Windows Insiders have been able to test the changes for the last few months. As a Windows Insiders testing regular preview builds you tend to forget how many changes there have been to the OS and they really do improve the Windows experiences. Here are some of favourite changes to the OS in the Creators Update and checkout my video guide to the new features at the bottom of this post.
Start menu app folders
A feature that has been part of Windows 10 Mobile for some time is the ability to group together apps on the start menu into folders. You drag one app onto another and then it creates a folder which you can then add additional apps into. I have created one for media apps like Groove and Movies& TV, I have one for social and another for communications app. It’s a great way of keeping your start menu tidy and one of those features you are surprised haven’t been there from day one.
The Creators Update introduces a new sharing system in Windows 10 replacing the old Windows 8 style UI. Gone is the old sidebar sharing system, instead there is a Windows 10 style dialog box shows apps that you can share via such as mail, Facebook and Twitter.
Window Overlay Mode
A new windows mode in the update is called Windowed Overlay Mode which basically means its picture in picture mode. This means apps like Movie & TV or Skype can display a small window which floats over the rest of Windows so you can watch videos or see a Skype video chat while continuing to work. Developers have to enable this feature and so far only Skype and the Movies app have taken advantage of it.
Cortana has gained a few new features and as is often the case with Cortana the features are region dependant. You can now lock, restart or turn off your PC via Cortana. There is a new full screen “Hey Cortana” UI that comes up with PC is idle and you can also control TuneIn Radio directly from Cortana.
For US English users you can continue where you left off when switching between PCs via Microsoft Edge and you can control music playback from iHeatRadio.
The some of the biggest changes in the CU update are within Microsoft Edge which has picked up a number of new features. First off Flash content is blocked by default which improves security and battery life, you can still use Flash if you need to you just click on the on the Jigsaw icon that comes up in Microsoft Edge when you view a flash video.
Edge now has Tab Previews that you can enable to see what each browser tab contains and there is a new “set aside” option that closes your currently open tabs and then you can open them up later via the Tab button.
Also added are new jump list options so you can right click on the Microsoft Edge in the Windows taskbar and you get the option to launch a new window or new in-private window.
Microsoft Edge is also the default app for reading ePUP electronic books which can be downloaded or purchased from the Windows Store (eBooks are US only at the moment).
Night Mode is a new display option which reduces the amount of blue light on the screen which is supposed to help sleeping at night. Windows automatically reduces the blue light depending on the time sunset at your current location. It gives Windows a nice warm glow when using it in the evening.
There are some subtle improvements to Windows Inking that really improve the usability with the pen in Windows. For example the photos apps gain support for Ink so you can annotate your images. Sketchpad and screen sketch have had their UI tweaked to make it easy to use.
A handy new feature if you are using a touch enabled device is a virtual touch pad which is great when you have a devices connected to an external monitor or Miracast device. You can control the pointer of the 2nd display from your main device. Very handy if you have a tablet connected to an external monitor.
If you are in the US there is a new eBook store for purchasing books and you can download Windows 10 themes from the site.
New Windows Defender
At last there is a new modern version of Windows Defender in Windows 10. The old version looked like it belonged to Windows Vista whereas the new version is a UWP app with a proper Windows 10 look and feel.
The Creators Update introduces a new lock feature to Windows called Dynamic Lock. It works by automatically locking your PC after 30 seconds when a paired Bluetooth is disconnected from the PC. So if you walk away from your PC with your phone in your pocket it will lock Windows. The only options for this feature is either on or off so there is no way to pick which devices lock your PC but it’s a nice additional security option.
New Precision touchpad settings
There are new precision touch pad settings in Windows 10 with additional option for three finger gestures such as gestures for showing the desktop or switching apps.
The big change with this release is something called differential downloads which means it only down parts of the OS that have changed rather than the whole OS, so an update should be quicker download and install. The update also adds extra control options such as the option to pause updates.
Windows 10 Creators Update has a new Game Mode which optimises Windows 10 for gaming and there is a new Gaming section in settings which gives you control over the settings in the gaming bar.
Other changes are Paint 3D an app for creating 3D objects in Windows which replaces the old pain app, support for mixed reality which is Microsoft VR/AR solution with headsets that are coming soon. There is also a brand new out of box experience with the OS so setting up Windows should be a better experience.
Windows 10 Mobile
While we have had plenty of builds during the development process but mobile is very light on new features and the change list looks a little sad compared to the PC changes.
Most of the changes are under the hood but the visible changes include new WiFi settings that match the PC version, improved zoom and text scaling in Microsoft Edge, ebook support in the Windows Store (US only), TuneIn Radio control from Cortana and you can delay updates for up to 35 days. I am sure I have missed some of the changes on mobile so if you spot any let me know.
Should you update to the Windows 10 Creators Update?
So should you do the update? Well you don’t really have a choice as it will be pushed to all Windows users over time. Initially it will be for a select group of devices like Microsoft’s Surface devices and then over time more devices will get add to the list. Last year’s Anniversary Update hit my Surface Pro 4 on the day Microsoft released it whereas some of my other devices took about a month to pickup the update. If you want to be sure to get the new build I would join the Windows Insider programme and select the Release Preview ring which gets early access to the release builds. One thing to watch out for is you have changes any of the default drivers in Device Manager this update will reset them.
Here is my hands on video:
Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of TheDigitalLifestyle.com tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.