The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is now rolling out to to the general public. Like previous major updates, Microsoft will be rolling the Fall Creators Update out gradually in stages over the coming weeks and months.
You can manually check to see if the update is ready for your PC via Windows Update now. If it is, your machine will start downloading the update and you’ll be asked to schedule a time to install. If the update isn’t part of the rollout just yet, you can still force the Fall Creators Update to install with Microsoft’s upgrade assistant by heading to the Windows 10 website and clicking “Update now.” Microsoft has also made available ISO files for the Fall Creators Update for those who prefer a clean install.
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update has been months in the making, with Windows Insiders testing the update every step of the way. The biggest features arriving on PCs with the update include OneDrive Files On-Demand, support for Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and aspects of Microsoft’s new Fluent Design language throughout the OS. There’s much more as well, including the addition of the My People section in the task bar. While you’re waiting for the update to download, check out all of what’s new in our comprehensive Fall Creators Update review.
OneDrive on Demand
The most eagerly anticipated change for those who used Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage is ‘Files On-Demand’.
The feature will let users see all their files stored on OneDrive from within Windows 10’s File Explorer, without having to first download these files. It basically marks the return of Windows 8.1’s OneDrive smart files.
Users will be able to see all their files, whether they are stored locally, are only on OneDrive, or stored on both. They can choose to download OneDrive files and folders to the device and to keep their local drive in sync with OneDrive. Files and folders stored solely on OneDrive will be tagged with a cloud icon.
One Click Communication
The taskbar will have a People icon, which will provide quick access to your contacts, as well as to communication apps. Users will also be able to pin their three favorite contacts to the right-hand side of taskbar. Clicking on a pinned contact’s face will bring up email or Skype messages from that person, and files can be dragged to that person’s face for quick sharing. Pinned contacts can also trigger pop-ups of animated emoji when they send you messages.
More Control Over Updates
Users will be able to set what percentage of the available network bandwidth is used to download updates in the background, and, if applicable, is available to upload updates to other PCs.
Batteries on laptops and tablets should last longer when running Windows 10, due to the new Power Throttling feature.
The performance of less important software will be squeezed to reduce battery drain, with Microsoft claiming the feature has lowered CPU power consumption by “up to 11%”. The system will throttle programs running in the background and prioritize performance of apps the user is engaging with in the foreground, for example, of a video player being used to watch a movie.
Users will be able to control how aggressively performance is throttled using a power slider, accessible by clicking the battery icon on the taskbar.
A New Look
With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft has started to rethink Windows 10’s design.
Major components of the OS, from the Start Menu to the Action Center, will use Microsoft’s new Fluent Design System.
This design language is aiming to provide app and OS interfaces that are more visually appealing and intuitive. Building on the touch-first ethos of Microsoft’s earlier Project Neon, the Fluent Design System is geared towards creating an OS that works across all sorts of Windows devices, encompassing PCs, phones, tablets, and VR and AR headsets.
The overhaul will add light, depth, motion, and the quality of physical materials to Windows and its apps, with the aim of accentuating elements of the UI that are important to the user. UI elements will also scale to remain usable across different devices, whether displayed on a widescreen monitor or a pocket-sized phone.
Examples of how it will be used are scrollbars that recede into the side of a window when not used, a ‘Reveal’ glow being added to the cursor that highlights borders and other elements of interfaces, more animated interface elements and a material dubbed “Acrylic”, which has the look of frosted plastic and can be used as a background or in menus.
Working across multiple machines should be simpler, as Windows 10 now allows users to start editing Microsoft Office files, for example a Word doc, on Android or iPhones and hit a single button to continue editing them on a PC.
If you log into an Office application, such as Word, on your iPhone and Android using your Microsoft account, then you’ll be able to resume working on the most recent file you were editing on your Windows 10 PC, providing this is also linked to your Microsoft account, by clicking the notification in the Windows 10 Action Center.
Talking to Microsoft Edge
Microsoft’s web browser gets various improvements, most notably gaining the ability to read web pages and e-books out loud.
Edge will be better suited to being used as an e-book reader, with improved PDF and EPUB support, including the ability to annotate documents in both these formats.
Reading progress will also be synced across devices and websites will be able to be pinned to the taskbar.
Storage Sense improvements
Windows will gain the ability to automatically manage more of your files, with Storage Sense able to automatically delete files from your Downloads folder 30 days, as well as to automatically remove previous versions of Windows once an upgrade has taken place.
Insert 3D objects into Office files
Rotable 3D objects created in Paint 3D or downloaded from Remix 3D, an online store of user-created 3D models, can be inserted into Office files, including PowerPoint presentations and Word documents.
Bigger and better Emojis with predictive text
The update introduces a new on-screen Emoji panel, with support for Emoji 5.0.
A new touchscreen keyboard on Windows 10 desktop also includes improved text prediction—with support for autocompleting phrases based on a single word—and the ability to transform single words into emojis in UWP apps. An alternative keyboard layout for one-handed typing will also be available, as will the option for controlling a Windows 10 PC using your eyes, using gaze-tracking hardware from Tobii.
A (slightly) smarter Cortana
The Cortana virtual assistant gets a minor bump to its abilities, and will be able to shut down, restart and lock PCs, as well as to sign out users.
More detailed system information
The About area in the Settings section has been redesigned to offer a wider range of information about the health of a system.
Elsewhere in the Settings section there is a new Video Playback page under Display, with options related to configuring video playback to maximize battery usage or video quality, alongside options related to High Dynamic Range within the Display settings, for those using HDR screens.
The Cortana virtual assistant also now has its own area in Settings.
A notable security improvement that could help in the battle against ransomware is Controlled Folder Access, which prevents applications from making any changes to files and folders in locations you specify.
Most enhancements will be to Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)—Microsoft’s threat detection and protection service that is part of Windows 10 Enterprise, and which bundles together Defender Application Guard (WDAG), Windows Defender Device Guard, and Windows Defender Antivirus.
WDAG is designed to help protect firms against online threats by adding container-based isolationto Windows 10’s Edge browser, allowing it to safely contain malware so it can’t spread within a company’s network.
An extended version of Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit will be built into the Windows 10 core and called Windows Defender Exploit Guard. Exploit Guard will spot and neutralize potential threats and intrusions, including zero days, using intelligence from the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph. Windows Defender Antivirus will also pull information from analysis of the billions of data points available via Microsoft’s Intelligent Security Graph, to better identify threats and improve protection.
Admins will be able to more easily manage these features using Intune and System Center Configuration Manager, according to Microsoft, with these orchestration tools also being updated to make it easier for companies to audit the security configuration and patch status of devices across their IT estate.
Windows Mixed Reality
With the release of the Fall Creators Update, Windows 10 users who are lucky enough to own a VR headset will be able to try out Windows Mixed Reality.
The built-in VR and AR platform will give Windows users the chance to use VR headsets to navigate through a virtual 3D home, with applications situated in themed settings, for instance the Films & TV app located in a virtual cinema.
The new Mixed Reality Viewer will also allow users to see 3D objects superimposed onto their real-world surroundings through the camera on their Windows 10 device.
The Fall Creators Update will also coincide with the launch of Windows ‘Mixed Reality’ headsets—basically virtual reality headsets—from Asus, Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo, which start selling from $399.
Easier access to Linux
The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), a feature that lets users run a wide range of Linux software inside Windows 10, will be easier to access.
WSL, which lets users run the Bash command line on top of various Linux-based operating systems, will no longer require Developer Mode to be active in order to run. It supports various Linux-based OSes including Ubuntu and openSUSE, with Fedora due soon, and other distros due to be added over time.
Link your phone to your PC
Android phone owners will be able to link their phone to their Windows 10 PC, which will display notifications showing who’s calling, with the option to decline the call or text the caller back from the PC, alongside missed calls.
iPhone and Android owners who link their phone to their PC will also be able to use their handset to open a site they are browsing on their phone in the Edge browser on their Windows PC, via the Share option in the phone’s browser.
The Photos app will have a Story Remix section that allows users to create quick video clips, easily adding text, transitions and music.
Start menu tinkering
The Start menu gets some minor changes, and will now use the Acrylic backdrop and allow users to resize it diagonally.
The Action Center also undergoes various small alterations, with a new Action Center UI featuring Fluent Design, an Acrylic backdrop, and subtle tweaks to the look of Toast notifications.