We've been covering previews of Microsoft's major Creators Update for Windows 10 and there are numerous tweaks and improvements that we're truly excited about. And now, it's finally here! Microsoft started rolling out the Windows 10 Creators yesterday via Windows Update and it should automatically be installed once it's made available to your computer.
Although it's not as massive as the Windows 10 Anniversary Update that dropped last year, this free upgrade brings with it welcome features that will enhance the Windows 10 experience. Here are a few of our favorites:
Cortana can now display a list of app-specific commands, auto-suggesting commands based on what you're typing and recurring reminders can now be scheduled on a monthly basis.
The Cortana shortcut has also been simplified to the Win+C keys.
Paint 3D is the next generation version of the ever-familiar Windows Paint application. With Paint 3D, users can now "draw" and create 3D objects from scratch. All your 3D creations can then be shared via the newly launched Remix 3D community.
Following Android and iOS's footsteps, Microsoft is testing its own Windows picture-in-picture support called "Compact Overlay." This feature will allow you to do a task in a small window, watching a video for example, that overlays on top of all other applications on the screen. This will be handy with Skype calls and other video chat services for sure. Universal Windows app developers will have to enable support for Compact Overlay for their apps, though.
Another useful feature is Dynamic Lock. This lets you pair a Bluetooth smartphone and it will automatically lock your Windows 10 PC when the smartphone is out of range. This will be a useful security feature for users who have the habit of not locking their desktops when stepping away from their desks.
Improvements to Windows' biometric sign-in system are also included. With the Creators Update, facial recognition tweaks make Windows Hello logins faster than ever.
For Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise or Education versions, there's now an option to pause updates for up to 35 days. For users who are wary of bugs that may break their components and peripherals, there's also an option to not include driver updates.
Night Light and Settings Tweaks
Notable changes were also made to the Settings app. First is the inclusion of a Blue Light Management feature that can automatically lower the amount of blue light your screen emits at set schedules.
There's also the new Display Settings page that puts the screen resolution settings back to its own section. There are also added settings pages for the Surface Dial, Windows theme integration and a cross-device page.
Microsoft's Edge browser now shows tab preview - thumbnail images of each open tab on the upper bar, and the ability to "set tabs aside" for later viewing. You can also easily launch separate regular or private browsing windows via a taskbar icon.
Edge will now also support Microsoft's Payment Request API so you can use your payment preferences and shipping address stored in Microsoft Wallet while browsing.
But perhaps the most significant change is the blocking of Flash by default. In older versions of Edge, Flash on Edge is click-to-run, meaning you'll have to allow it each time you want Flash content to run.
Stylus fans now have access to new Windows Ink features that include the new pen, pencil and highlighter that show what color is selected and the point erase feature that lets you erase portions of an ink stroke.
Start Menu and Graphical Improvements
The Creators Update also brings improvements to Windows 10's Start menu. You can now group tiles into a custom folder similar to how Windows Phones or iOS gadgets group app icons.
A new screenshot shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+S) is now available, which lets you capture an area of your desktop and paste it to any application while the new redesigned Share UI is now available by default.
Other UI improvements include smoother window resizing and scaling for applications and high-resolution support for desktop apps.
Narrator and Accessibility Improvements
The Narrator (voice-over) shortcut has been moved to Ctrl+Win+Enter to prevent accidental activations and this update will also mark the debut of Braille support in Windows 10.
Windows 10's built-in security software can now run quick, advanced or full scans and if your computer gets really messed up, there's a Refresh Windows option accessible from Windows Defender itself.
New Privacy Tools
Microsoft also announced that it is simplifying Windows 10's privacy settings in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update slated for release in early 2017.
The update will revamp the initial Windows 10 setup to clearly show the important privacy settings that you need to choose from, whether you are upgrading from a previous Windows version or you are already using Windows 10. This setup will replace the "Express settings" option that is currently in Windows 10.
Another big change in the Creators Update is the streamlining of the telemetry data that is currently being collected in Windows 10's "Feedback & diagnostics" section. With the update, the section will be dropping the Enhanced level option, cutting it down to two levels, Basic or Full, instead of the current three.
Furthermore, the data collected in the Basic level will be further reduced. To be clear, Microsoft said that this level will still include data that is vital to Windows including device information, what is installed and basic error reporting.
The Creators Update also introduces Game Mode to Windows 10. This mode will reduce background tasks and apps running in the background, devoting processor and memory to a game you're playing to ensure that it's running as good as possible.
Game Streaming via Beam
Similar to Twitch, gamers can now live-stream and broadcast their play sessions quickly via Microsoft's newly acquired video-gaming service Beam.
Green Screen of Death
Anyone well-acquainted with the classic BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) of Windows should start using a new acronym soon. The Creators Update also introduces the Green Screen of Death (GSOD?) replacing the infamous BSOD we all know and despise.
How to update Windows
The Windows 10 Creators Update is rolling out slowly so it will not be available to everyone at the same time. To check if your computer is already pegged for the upgrade, here's how you can find out if the update will install when it rolls out to you.
Most Windows machines are set to download and install updates automatically by default. If you haven't changed your automatic update settings then you should be fine.
But if you want to check, here's how:
On Windows 10, click Start (Windows logo), choose "Settings," select "Update & Security," then on the "Windows Update" section, click on "Advanced Options." (Note: the "Windows Update" section is also handy for showing you updates that are currently being downloaded or applied.) Under "Advanced Options," just make sure the drop down box is set to "Automatic."