It’s only been a few months since Microsoft started rolling out the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. And it’s almost time for the next major overhaul. The Creators Update (also known as “Redstone 2”) is due to hit Windows 10 computers in Spring 2017.
If you’re on the Windows Insider Preview program, you can already play with beta versions of some of the new features already. If you’re not, keep reading to find out what you can look forward to.
1. Improved Action Center
After some intelligent tweaking in the Anniversary Update, the Action Center is due to take another giant leap forwards in usefulness with the Creators Update.
The biggest change comes in the form of sliders for volume and brightness, but you can also expect to see improved Cortana integrations, a neater user interface, and an improved offering of customizable Quick Actions.
2. More Personalization
One of the biggest criticisms of Windows 10 so far has been its limited personalization options, when compared to previous versions of the operating system.
That’s all set to change. If you love using custom accent colors, you’ll now get the benefit of a color picker and a system-wide preview. It’ll even tell you whether the colors you’ve chosen will be easy-to-read and suggest alternatives if they won’t.
Microsoft will also introduce an automatic “Blue Light” option. It’ll change the brightness and screen warmth based on the time of day, much like existing third-party solutions.
3. Paint 3D
The Microsoft Paint interface has barely changed since the version that was shipped with Windows 95. However, the Creators Update will dump the tried-and-tested visuals in favor of a new 3D offering.
The new app will support pen input and allow users to design and create 3D models. You’ll even be able to scan a real-life 3D object on your phone and import it into the app for editing. Microsoft has suggested there will also be a newly-created online community where you can share and discuss your creations.
4. Mixed Reality
Mixed reality blends augmented reality, virtual reality, and holographic computing. When used in conjunction with Windows 10, the HoloLens mixed reality headset will let you download or create a 3D model, then virtually place it within the real world.
If the $3,000 HoloLens hardware is out of your price range, don’t worry. Microsoft is working with Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo to create headsets that should be available for as little as $300.
For people who love DIY or are on the cusp of a major home renovation, it promises to be a revolutionary new feature. You can redecorate entire rooms without touching a paintbrush. No more expensive mistakes!
5. New Microsoft Office Features
The 3D revolution doesn’t stop with Paint. According to reports, Microsoft PowerPoint will receive 3D models and cinematic 3D animations that you can use in presentations. Word and Excel will eventually receive similar features.
All the Office apps will also support pen functionality for writing, editing, and formatting.
6. Enhanced Edge Functionality
Edge hasn’t quite managed to grab the public’s attention so far. It wasn’t helped by some glaring omissions when it first launched, though there is no doubt it’s grown into a fast and functioning browser in the last couple of years.
It’ll take another step forward in the Creators Update. Most welcome will be the inclusion of a session manager, which will let you restore tabs from before you rebooted or closed the app. The update will also improve the navigation of currently-open tabs by expanding the preview function. Lastly, you’ll now be able to save 3D objects directly from websites.
7. Windows Store Themes
Along with improved personalization options, Microsoft will offer system-wide themes available to buy directly from the Windows Store. They’ll be available through a new personalization tab.
At this stage, it’s not clear exactly what form these themes will take, but it’s reasonable to assume there will be both users’ and brands’ designs available. If you want to plaster your computer with imagery from a certain movie, video game, or sports team, that will soon be an option.
Microsoft has repeatedly stated it wants to “place people at the center of Windows”. As part of this vision, it’s set to introduce a new feature called MyPeople.
You’ll find it on the right-hand side of the Taskbar and it will give you a way to quickly communicate with the most important people in your life. Your email, Skype, Xbox Live, and SMS messages will integrate into the new app, and you will be able to switch between communication methods with a single click.
Microsoft has not announced whether it’ll open the API to third-party developers.
9. Global Actions
Colloquially referred to as “Pick Up Where I Left Off”, Global Actions will utilize Cortana to sync a specific app’s state from one device to another. This is similar to Apple’s continuity feature in MacOS and iOS.
We speculate that Microsoft wants to extend the feature to work for entire workspaces. Cortana would contextually sync files, tabs, and apps between all your devices, allowing you to seamlessly switch gadgets.
10. Windows Defender Overhaul
Another one of the criticisms frequently leveled at Windows 10 is that it includes some legacy graphics and layouts. These legacy items can make for a jarring user experience. The Control Panel is the worst offender, but another of the apps that received some flack — Windows Defender — is set to receive a complete design overhaul.
The app’s new interface looks a lot more like a typical Windows 10 app. It proves Microsoft is not planning on leaving the legacy graphics in the operating system forever. If I had to guess, I’d predict we’ll see the Control Panel revamped in the first major release after the Creators Update.
11. Groove Music Maker
Microsoft is targeting the Creators Update specifically at “creative” people: those who enjoy producing content.
To that end, Microsoft will offer a new app called Groove Music Maker. It will let you create tracks without the need for purchasing any new software. The app is free, so don’t expect it to usurp the leading music editing software, but it should be more than adequate for home enthusiasts.
In addition to these bigger changes, a host of smaller tweaks and updates will improve the Windows user experience. Here’s a small taste of what else Microsoft will include:
- Improved Upgrading — If you uninstall built-in apps, Windows will not reinstall them when you download a system update.
- Wi-Fi Control — The update will include new settings to give you more control over your Wi-Fi, including disabling it for a specified period of time.
- Mail App — It will be possible to reply to emails using Quick Actions and automatically CC someone using the @ symbol.
- OneDrive File Placeholders — Microsoft removed OneDrive placeholders in Windows 10. A sync-on-demand feature looks set to return with the new update.
- Game Broadcasting — The Game DVR feature will now have a broadcasting button. It’ll allow anyone to tune in and watch you slay some demons or win the World Cup.
One Thing Isn’t Clear…
Clearly, the community will appreciate these updates because they will make Windows 10 even more powerful and useful.
But one question remains: Will Microsoft do anything about the biggest and most frequently cited problem with the operating system? You know what I’m talking about: the forced updates and restarts outside Active Hours. One can only hope.
Which of these new features and/or apps are you most looking forward to using? Let us know in the comments!