Win­dows 10 Fall Cre­ators Up­date

Full re­view of the lat­est Mi­crosoft op­er­at­ing sys­tem

Computer Shopper - - FRONT PAGE - David Lud­low

Free • From Win­dows Up­date

VERDICT

Win­dows 10 con­tin­ues to evolve, but if you’re not into VR, there’s not a lot here for you

MI­CROSOFT IS CON­TIN­U­ING with its prom­ise to up­date Win­dows 10 reg­u­larly, adding new fea­tures and tweak­ing ex­ist­ing ones in much the same way as Ap­ple does with macOS. For this re­lease, the big in­tro­duc­tion is sup­port for the Win­dows Mixed Re­al­ity plat­form. Mixed Re­al­ity, as the name sug­gests, is de­signed to merge the vir­tual with the real, over­lay­ing the com­puter gen­er­ated on the phys­i­cal world.

A NEW DI­MEN­SION

Paint 3D, an ap­pli­ca­tion that launched with April’s Cre­ators Up­date, now in­te­grates with the Mixed Re­al­ity plat­form. If you have a de­vice with a suit­able built-in cam­era, such as the Sur­face Pro, you can drop 3D mod­els into the real world, and move and pan around the aug­mented re­al­ity. It’s a neat trick and lets you see how some­thing you’ve mod­elled on your com­puter would look in the real world, but this fea­ture will ap­peal to few.

Mixed Re­al­ity head­sets (from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Len­ovo) bet­ter demon­strate what Win­dows 10 can do. These are ac­tu­ally tra­di­tional VR mod­els, closer to the Ocu­lus Rift and HTC Vive than Mi­crosoft’s HoloLens, but im­pres­sively they track move­ment with­out an ar­ray of ex­ter­nal sen­sors. They all share the same specs, leav­ing price and com­fort the only dis­tin­guish­ing fac­tors.

Con­trol comes via the wire­less con­trollers, with one per hand. These are tracked di­rectly through the head­set, too, so you can hook ev­ery­thing up to your PC with one USB and one HDMI ca­ble.

We tested the Dell Vi­sor Mixed Re­al­ity Head­set. Smooth vi­su­als and the well-de­signed con­trollers made it easy for us to dis­patch a horde of ro­botic nin­jas with a com­bi­na­tion of punches, guns and throw­ing stars.

Through Win­dows 10, there’s a Mixed Re­al­ity Por­tal app, which gives you a vir­tual house to walk through, full of your own con­tent and apps. It’s partly a fancy launcher, but you can use your home for other things, such as repli­cat­ing a cin­ema-sized screen for watch­ing films or Net­flix. There’s even the op­tion to view your own com­puter desk­top in­side your vir­tual home, which is both strange and quite cool.

SteamVR com­pat­i­bil­ity is com­ing later this year, so you won’t be limited to Mi­crosoft’s apps and can play a wider range of games, too.

PHOTO OP­POR­TU­NITY

The Pho­tos app has had a big over­haul and is now called Pho­tos Remix. It works sim­i­larly to the Pho­tos app on macOS and Google Pho­tos, col­lat­ing your im­ages in one place. Im­ages are au­to­mat­i­cally tagged, sorted and ar­ranged via AI. For ex­am­ple, you can find all im­ages of one per­son quickly, or search for a com­mon phrase, such as ‘cat’, to find im­ages of one type.

Built into Pho­tos Remix is a new edit­ing tool, which can quickly make videos based on the im­ages and movies that you throw at it. There’s no es­cape from 3D mod­el­ling here, either, and you can edit videos, adding your own 3D ef­fects to them.

Pho­tos Remix is a solid over­haul, but the changes don’t go far enough. With Pho­tos on Mac, you can largely use one app for stor­ing and edit­ing files; Pho­tos Remix is a lit­tle more ba­sic and for edit­ing, you’ll most likely want a sep­a­rate ap­pli­ca­tion, such as Light­room.

Other changes are harder to spot. Mi­crosoft has over­hauled some of the de­sign el­e­ments, so scroll bars dis­ap­pear au­to­mat­i­cally when not be­ing used, and there are some blur and tran­si­tion ef­fects that make the OS look more mod­ern. These changes are very sub­tle, though, so you won’t no­tice an im­me­di­ate dif­fer­ence.

Stor­age Sense has also been up­dated, so the tool can now clear out your down­loads folder, re­mov­ing files that haven’t changed in the past 30 days. It can also delete pre­vi­ous ver­sions of Win­dows fol­low­ing an up­grade. If you want to keep on top of PC main­te­nance au­to­mat­i­cally, both fea­tures are wel­come ad­di­tions, but hardly revo­lu­tion­ary.

Peo­ple Bar is a new app that ap­pears to the left of the No­ti­fi­ca­tion Area. It gives you a short­cut to all your con­tacts (pro­vided they’re in the Peo­ple app), so you can quickly email or Skype them. How­ever, there’s no in­te­gra­tion with Cor­tana’s SMS abil­ity, which sends text mes­sages via your An­droid phone, which feels like a missed op­por­tu­nity.

SHUT DOWN NOW

Cor­tana gets a mi­nor up­date so you can lock, shut down or res­tart your com­puter us­ing your voice. Per­son­ally, we find the lock short­cut (Win­dows-L) or the tra­di­tional shut­down/res­tart op­tions eas­ier.

Bet­ter is that Cor­tana’s set­tings are now in the main Set­tings app, which makes them eas­ier to find and change. Mi­crosoft has also moved more op­tions into the Set­tings app away from the Con­trol Panel, and the over­hauled About sec­tion presents more in­for­ma­tion on your PC and its health in a cleaner, eas­ier-to-read way.

OneDrive users will be pleased to see the Files on De­mand fea­ture. Repli­cat­ing the much-loved and missed Place­hold­ers fea­ture of old, it means that you don’t have to down­load your en­tire drive to your com­puter and can ac­cess some files on de­mand, pulling them from the cloud as needed. You can, of course, mark cer­tain files for off­line use, sav­ing them to your hard disk.

As with pre­vi­ous up­dates, Mi­crosoft sees the Fall Cre­ators Up­date as a nec­es­sary up­grade and one you’ll need to stay up to date with the lat­est se­cu­rity patches. Down­loads will roll out slowly over the com­ing weeks, although those that want the new fea­tures im­me­di­ately can force the down­load by us­ing the Me­dia Cre­ation Tool (www.mi­crosoft.com/ en-us/soft­ware-down­load/win­dows10).

Ul­ti­mately, this up­date is more about bring­ing mixed re­al­ity and VR to Win­dows 10, so for many users, the changes won’t make much dif­fer­ence to every­day life.

⬆ The Win­dows 10 Fall Cre­ators Up­date is geared to­wards 3D mod­el­ling

⬆ Mixed Re­al­ity is the big new fea­ture to hit Win­dows 10

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