Microsoft has settled on bi-annual updates for Windows 10, with the first update arriving in the spring and the second in the fall. Accordingly, the first update for 2017, dubbed Creators Update based on all of its new features and functionality for creative types, arrived in April. The second update, which is a little more derivatively titled Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, should arrive early this fall and likely in September. Here’s an up-to-date accounting of all of the most important Windows 10 Fall Creators Update news.
If you’re a Windows Insider on the Fast Ring, then you already know what Fall Creators Update will add to your Windows 10 PC. If you’re not, then read on to learn what Microsoft is bringing to the table, as well as some features that were promised at the company’s Build 2017 event that won’t be making it into Windows 10 this time around.
What’s new in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update?
As its name implies, some of the new features in Fall Creators Update are once again focused on people who use their PCs for creative purposes. But that’s not all that Microsoft promised for the update. Here are some of the highlights of what you can expect when you hit that update button.
New Windows 10 Photos app (once known as Story Remix)
Microsoft made a decent sized splash at Build 2017 when it introduced a new Story Remix app that promises to make it easy to create video productions that mix photos and video and offer tools for cool 3D animations and captioning effects. As time went on, some uncertainty arose as to whether or not the app would make it in time for Fall Creators update and just how much of the promised functionality would arrive.
Now, it seems like some of the functionality will arrive in an update to the Windows 10 Photos app — and so no more standalone Story Remix — but that the update won’t necessarily arrive along with the update itself and not every highlighted effect will be available immediately. Rather, it could come as a Photos app update in the Windows Store soon after Fall Creators Update is pushed to Windows 10 PC. Check out this tweet from Microsoft corporate vice president Chris Pratley:
Story Remix will be in the Store when RS3 launches (auto-updates the existing Photos app). RS2 minimum, but RS3 for full functionality.
— chris pratley (@chrispr) August 15, 2017
We’ll have to wait for the shipping version to see exactly what’s in store. However, check out the following video for an overview of what Microsoft ultimately hopes to bring to Windows 10 users.
A more Fluent Design
Next, Microsoft announced some significant enhancements to the design language that developers — inside and outside of Microsoft — can use to make new Windows 10 apps. Called “Fluent Design” and formerly codenamed “Project Neon,” the new design language integrates touch, ink, voice, gaze, and gesture controls with five design elements including light, depth, motion, material, and scale. The net result will be more visually exciting apps that are optimized for a given device.
Microsoft has used Fluent Design to spice up a few of its own first-party apps and the Windows 10 user interface (UI) in general, so it’s actively in the process of rolling out Fluent Design out in Windows Insider preview updates. One small example is the Calculator app, which as you can see from the following screenshot has incorporated a nifty transparency effect. Another is a flat-color design to the Action Center that adds some refinement to the user interface.
Microsoft has promised more extravagant uses for Fluent Design, such as its Edge browser recognizing when an active pen is in use on a screen, and morphing the app to enable intelligent pen input. Check out the following screenshot for an example:
Fluent Design will be a major part of Windows 10 going forward, and while its effects have only been scattered here and there in the latest Fall Creators Update preview builds, we’re likely to see more apps adopt its principles once the update has officially rolled out. Check out the introduction video for a better idea of what Microsoft hopes to achieve with Fluent Design.
Microsoft Edge gets a face lift
Microsoft has introduced a number of new features and enhanced functionality through the Windows Insider program, that weren’t specifically introduced at Build 2017. Microsoft Edge is one key Windows 10 component that’s received quite a bit of attention. Some of the changes to Edge coming with Fall Creators Update include:
- Improved EPUB support: Reading EPUB ebooks in Edge will be a more pleasant and useful experience, with new copy and “Ask Cortana” support along with the ability to add notes via the keyboard or Windows Ink. Ebooks acquired via the Windows Store will also sync reading progress, bookmarks, and notes across devices.
- Enhanced favorites: Working with Edge favorites will be easier, with a new directory tree view when saving favorites, and the ability to expand and collapse folders. A favorite URL can also be added from within the menu or the Favorites Bar.
- Better PDF support: Viewing and working with PDFs in Edge will be much improved in the Fall Creators Update. PDF form support has been added, along with the ability to view PDF table and contents, and ink directly on PDFs from within Edge.
- Pin web pages to the desktop: Edge will now allow you to pin web pages to the Task Bar, including using the website’s icon to identify the page. You’ll be able to simply select “Pin this page to the taskbar” to make a page immediately and easily accessible.
- Go Full Page: Finally, there’s an easy way to make Edge fill the entire screen. Just hit F11 (as with most browsers) to enter and leave full screen mode, or use the icon in the menu.
My People finally arrives
Microsoft promised a new way to manage contacts for Windows 10 Creators Update, and it never materialized. The My People feature is arriving with Fall Creators Update, however, bringing with it a My People Hub icon on the Task Bar, the ability to pin up to three users for easy access, and new ways to to start communicating with people without needing to open an app first. The My People functionality is rather limited at this point, but it’s nevertheless a welcome feature that makes keeping in touch a bit easier.
Link your phone to Windows 10
Microsoft promised a number of new ways to integrate your smartphone with Windows 10, and unfortunately, most of those won’t be making their way in the Fall Creators Update (see below). One new feature that did make the cut is a new ability to link your Android and iOS smartphone to your Microsoft account and send web pages to from your phone to your PC to pick up where you left off.
It’s easy enough to set up and it works, but it’s only a hint of what’s to come. Eventually, more apps will be supported and hopefully, the feature will be easier to use. In the meantime, it’s obvious that Microsoft wants to make sure that Windows 10 users running Android and iOS devices remain tied closely to Microsoft platforms.
OneDrive Files on Demand
Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service is a great fit for anyone who is tied in closely with Windows 10 and the company’s Office productivity suite. OneDrive also became a source of frustration for users when Microsoft changed how it handles really large amounts of storage. In the past, OneDrive used a placeholder feature that allowed users to see everything that’s stored there but only download files as needed. That saved space on machines with limited local storage but maintained the ability to access any file on OneDrive.
Microsoft changed OneDrive a couple of years ago to only sync certain files and folders locally, meaning that while users could save space they also couldn’t access all of their OneDrive files from the Windows Explorer. What a pain. With Fall Creators Update, however, Microsoft is bringing OneDrive Files on Demand, which is an enhanced version of the placeholder concept and allows users to save local storage space while retaining access to any OneDrive file. Users will see all of their files in Windows Explorer and a new cloud status icon will show whether a file is stored in OneDrive or locally.
OneDrive Files on Demand has been available to Windows Insiders for a few builds now, and it works well. It’s also voluntary — users can elect to turn the feature on or keep things the way they’ve been.
A whole bunch of little things
Finally, Microsoft has made a number of behind-the-scenes improvements that will roll out in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update:
- Input has been improved for mouse, keyboard, touch, and pen users, with a new touch keyboard with shape writing added in, enhancements to the handwriting panel, and easier ways to access emojis.
- There’s information on GPU status and utilization in the Task Manager Performance tab that lets gamers and video editors keep tabs on how that shiny new GPU is being used.
- And, as usual, a slew of performance and stability improvements are on their way to make Windows 10 a generally faster and more reliable operating system. For example, the Power Throttling feature will reduce the CPU resources used by background apps to help make laptop battery life last a little longer — up to 11 percent longer, in fact.
Microsoft is also bringing some new security and privacy functionality in Fall Creators Update. New ransomware protections are on the way with the ability to protect folders from unauthorized changes, for example. In addition, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) will be enhanced to provide advanced protections with tools like Windows Defender Exploit Guard, Windows Defender Application Guard, and significant updates to Windows Defender Device Guard and Windows Defender Antivirus.
What’s not coming in Fall Creators Update
Some of the more exciting functionality that Microsoft teased at Build 2017 involved the enhanced integration of Windows 10 with Android and iOS and new ways to go back in time to pick up tasks, apps, and files where you left off. Those features, summarized below from our coverage of Build 2017, won’t be making their way to Fall Creators Update.
- Timeline: Users will be able to move through a timeline that displays what they were doing, and when, moving back in time to access previously used files, apps, and websites. The timeline will allow users to go back over a long period of time and return to a past task as if it was still open. In addition, the feature will work across devices, allowing a user to see what was done no matter which device or platform was used.
- Pick Up Where You Left Off: Cortana will provide the means to access previously used apps, documents, and websites across Windows, iOS, and Android. Users will be able to log off of their PCs, for example, and then pick up a doc where they left off on an iOS or Android device.
- Cloud Clipboard: The Clipboard will now be shared between PCs and smartphones via the cloud, allowing users to copy photos, map links, paragraphs, images, or other content and then paste it into apps on other devices.
When will it release?
As far as we’re aware, if you’re running Windows 10 Creators Update, then you’re eligible to receive Fall Creators Update when it arrives worldwide October 17.
While Microsoft hasn’t talked details about the rollout yet, we imagine that — like past updates — it will take place over weeks or months, with only a lucky few getting the update on the initial launch date.
If you want it earlier than that, you can always sign up for Windows Insider builds.