What’s new… The Creators Update
Get the Creators Update
The Windows 10 Creators Update is a free download for every Windows 10 user. The good news is that this means at some point in the future, your PC will let you know that the update is ready to be downloaded and installed. All you need to do is make sure your work (or any game progress) is saved, then let Windows Update do its thing.
However, to stop millions of Windows 10 users all trying to download the rather hefty update all at once, and potentially breaking part of the Internet, Microsoft is rolling out the update to PCs around the world in waves, and it’s been coy about how long this rollout process will take.
So, you might get the Creators Update in the next few days, or you may have to wait weeks – or even months – before it appears in Windows Update.
However, like the Good News Fairy that we are (think the Tooth Fairy, but with a beer belly and faded Half Life 2 T-shirt), we have more glad tidings: There’s a way to manually update to the Windows 10 Creators Update yourself, so you don’t have to wait for Microsoft’s rollout.
To manually download the Creators Update, head to the Windows 10 Update Assistant web page (www.microsoft.com/ en-us/software-download/windows10), then click ‘Update now.’
The tool downloads, then checks for the latest version of Windows 10, which includes the Creators Update.
Once downloaded, run it, then select Update Now. The tool does the rest for you. Your PC restarts a few times – so make sure you save your work first – and then your PC is updated with the Creators Update, while all your files and settings remain where they were.
The Windows 10 download site also enables you to get an ISO image, which you can then use to update your current installation of Windows 10, or perform a clean install with the Creators Update.
With the Creators Update installed, what new features await you? Well, one of the most exciting additions is a new program called Paint 3D. We know what you’re thinking: Who cares about a new version of Microsoft Paint? And who still cares about 3D? We were as surprised as you are – after meeting Microsoft to see Creators Update before it launched – to come away so impressed by this new app.
Paint 3D, like its 2D counterpart (which remains its own separate program), grants simple tools for people to create their own artwork. What’s particularly impressive about Paint 3D is that the concept of creating models in a 3D space can be quite complicated, but Paint 3D makes the process incredibly simple, thanks to built-in tools that appear very straightforward at first, but are actually
powerful enough to create some impressive 3D artworks once you’re comfortable using them.
These creations can be exported and viewed on normal PCs, or added to Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications to be viewed in 3D. Plus, if you have a 3D printer hooked up to your PC, it’s incredibly easy to print off your creations. It’s difficult to explain in writing, but trust us: Load up Paint 3D and have a play around – it may just be your new favorite application.
Microsoft’s renewed love of 3D extends beyond Paint 3D to PowerPoint (for 3D models and 3D animations, to make presentations slightly less dull), and the default Edge web browser, which now supports 3D content, and plays nicely with 3D files exported from various programs, such as Minecraft, SketchUp, and, of course, Paint 3D.
While 3D displays are now out of vogue, mixed reality – just like virtual reality and augmented reality – is the hot new thing, and it is these technologies that have rekindled Microsoft’s 3D passion. Under the name Windows Mixed Reality (formerly Windows Holographic), this is a mixed reality platform built by Microsoft on the Windows 10 API, and it is heavily integrated into the Windows 10 Creators Update.
Windows Mixed Reality means you can create your own 3D model (or simply download an existing one), and then easily place it into a real or virtual world using a VR or AR headset. While Microsoft’s own AR headset, HoloLens, is a pricey proposition, Microsoft also announced last year that it is working with a number of headset manufacturers to bring third-party AR and VR headsets to Windows 10 machines. A new app, the Mixed Reality Portal, is included with the Creators Update to show you exactly what Windows 10 is capable of.
A focus on Games
Microsoft promising that it still cares about PC gaming, while chasing the shiny Xbox bauble, is something that a lot of us have heard many times before. At least with the Creators Update, it seems like Microsoft may be making some positive moves.
In the Windows 10 Settings app, there is a new addition: Gaming. This setting enables you to control many aspects of how Windows 10 handles games. Its most talked-about feature is the new Game Mode option, which helps your PC maintain solid frame rates as you play, while other background tasks and applications run. We go into more detail in the box on the right, but you can turn the feature on and off from the Gaming settings page.
The Game DVR settings page enables you to control how you take screenshots and record gameplay videos. While there’s a number of programs that enable you to record and share videos, such as Nvidia’s ShadowPlay, Microsoft hopes that by baking this functionality into Windows 10, you’ll be more likely to use its offering, especially since it’s so easy to configure and begin recording. Microsoft also argues that by using Windows 10 to record your gameplay, rather than third-party software, your PC will have more resources at its disposal, which in turn should give you more consistent and stable frame rates when you play games while recording.
Among the new Game DVR settings is the ability to turn audio recording on (and off), if you want to provide narration, and you can choose the frame rates and video quality from here as well. You can also set Windows 10’s Broadcast settings from this window. In the Creators Update, Microsoft is looking to seriously up the reach of, and community around, games played on Windows 10 with a new feature
called Beam. An acquisition recently made by Microsoft, Beam is a PC game streaming and broadcasting platform. It’s similar to Twitch – complete with its own streaming network via web browser – and has been converted into a baked-in Game Bar feature, which can be brought up by pressing [Win] + [G] on your keyboard.
Beam’s major claim to fame here, though, is that it maintains sub-second latency from the broadcaster’s executions in-game to those moments being displayed on your computer screen via stream. In other words, for broadcasters, this reduction in the time between what you’re doing in-game and your viewers seeing it makes interacting that much more interesting.
Broadcasting using Beam is made incredibly simple in the Creators Update – all you need to do is open up the Game Bar, click the Broadcast icon, then just a few clicks and toggles after that, and you’re broadcasting to Beam viewers worldwide. That’s after creating a Beam account, as well as an Xbox Live account, if you haven’t already. Once again, this is a sign that, as good as the new features ushered in by the Creators Update are, many of them require you to be fully signed up to Microsoft’s ecosystem. If you’re not too keen on Microsoft’s recent direction, you may not be a huge fan of this. It is, after all, also doubling down on the Windows Store and UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps for games.
There’s a load of other features included in the Creators Update and – while they aren’t as headline-grabbing as Game Mode and mixed reality support – their addition definitely makes Windows 10 a better operating system.
Take Night Light, for example. It’s Microsoft’s answer to Night Shift on Apple’s macOS Sierra, and it is an effective and welcome feature for people who tend to use computers at all hours of the night. It lowers the amount of blue light
your PC emits though its display, which can play havoc with your internal clock.
What’s even better than the competing solutions is how Night Light enables you to adjust the tone of the colour change, in addition to the standard setting of whether the mode kicks in at sunset local time, or activates within set hours.
Microsoft has also thrown a lot of new features at its Edge browser in a bid to make us ditch Chrome and Firefox. As well as the aforementioned support for 3D media, it also includes a genuinely useful tab preview bar that gives you a visual overview of all your currently open tabs, so you can quickly and easily switch between the ones you need. This is a great addition for those of us who usually end a browsing session on the Internet with an unwieldy number of tabs open.
You can also ‘set tabs aside’, which is Microsoft speak for saving open tabs as a collection, which you can then open and restore at any time.
Edge has often felt a little neglected when it comes to add-ons and extensions, with popular ones on Firefox and Chrome often skipping Microsoft’s latest browser. The company is looking to fix that with the Creators Update, by bringing a large number of popular add-ons and extensions to Edge.
Microsoft has also worked hard on making Edge as lightweight as possible, which means that if you’re browsing the web on a laptop or tablet, Edge should be less taxing on your device’s battery, which should mean you’ll have more surfing time before your machine dies.
To prove its point, Microsoft has released a battery test video comparison, showing the staying power of the three most popular browsers side-by-side, pitting its own Edge offering against Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox. The test was a simple one: which browser could last the longest while streaming a full-screen video from Vimeo. Given that Microsoft is keen for you to see the results, there are no prizes for guessing which web browser came out on top – yep, Microsoft Edge.
Edge didn’t just, well, edge the test either. Instead, it dominated proceedings, lasting a full 35 percent longer than Google Chrome, and a massive 77 percent longer than Firefox.
While Firefox lasted just seven hours and four minutes before conking out, Chrome managed a full nine hours and 17 minutes of streaming.
Microsoft’s Edge browser – which has been specially tuned for the Windows 10 Creators Update – just kept on chugging, eventually clocking up a staggering 12 hours and 31 minutes of streaming time before finally calling it a day.
In terms of fairness, the three browsers were each made to run on identical Surface Book 2-in-1 laptops, each powered by a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U processor, with 8GB of RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 520 integrated graphics.
Ensuring further parity, each device was muted, had brightness set to 75 percent, Bluetooth and location disabled, and the Quiet Hours functionality switched on.
To be honest, it’s not quite enough for us to make the leap from our trusted browsers to Edge just yet, but it looks like it is definitely going in the right direction.
As good as Windows 10 is, there were concerns around the default privacy settings it originally shipped with, with many people worried about the kind of data – and control – to which Microsoft has access. Fortunately, the company has been aware of these criticisms, and it has responded by trying to make it more obvious what kind of data it collects in the Windows 10 Creators Update – as well as making it easier for you to change any privacy setting that you don’t like.
When you update your install of Windows 10 to the Creators Update, you’ll see a screen asking you to choose the privacy settings for your device. The options are for Location, Diagnostics, Relevant Ads, Speech Recognition, and ‘Tailored Experiences with Diagnostic Data’. Each option has a ‘Learn more’ button that you should click to get a full explanation about what it affects.
In our opinion, this is a very positive step for Microsoft to have taken, and while we’d prefer it if most of those settings were switched off by default, we’re happy to see that Microsoft has explained each setting thoroughly, enabling you to take a greater control over your privacy when you’re using the Windows 10 Creators Update.
skype This all-new version makes it easier than ever to make free video calls to friends and family. Now has SMS messaging too. microsoft edge Given an overhaul in the Creators Update, with tab previews that let you grab a sneak peek at any web page you already have open before you switch to its tab. MAPS The updated Maps app now offers directions for trips with multiple stops and a new slicker, smarter look. mixed reality portal This option makes it easy to test augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) graphics without a connected device, such as a HoloLens. Aimed at software developers.
Use the Windows 10 Update Assistant to manually download and install the update.
Windows 10’s web browser, Edge, has been given an overhaul, and using tabs is now better than ever.
A new Gaming section has been added to the Windows Settings app.
According to Microsoft’s own testing, Edge is the least battery-intensive browser.
The Creators Update brings more compatibility with ‘mixed reality’ devices.
You can also use your device as an e-reader, with built-in support for ebooks.