In addition, to Pick Up Where You Left Off, there are a couple of other enhancements to Cortana. For instance, the personal assistant can now shut down, restart, or lock your device. It can also change the volume of your device, and “intelligently” detect the music app you intend to use by looking at your previous habits.
There’s also a new idle mode in Cortana that will automatically enable a new full-screen UI that makes it easier to use Cortana with your voice when you are slightly away from your PC. This feature automatically gets activated when your PC is idle for several minutes, and when you say, “Hey Cortana”, it will open in a full-screen UI that’s optimized for long-distance reading – similar to how Cortana already works in the lock screen.
The enhancements coming to Cortana are rather important for Windows 10 – they aren’t anything groundbreaking, but if you frequently use the personal assistant on your Windows 10 PC, you are going to like the Creators Update quite a lot.The Desktop Experience
Microsoft made a lot of improvements to the actual desktop experience in Windows 10 with the Creators Update, this includes things like the Start Menu, the Action Center, the Settings app, and more. These changes are not anything game changing, yet they are significant when it comes to improving the day-to-day experience of using a Windows 10 PC.
Firstly, let’s talk about the new and improved customization features. You can FINALLY have a custom accent color for Windows 10. For the past few years, users were limited to using the preset colors that came with Windows 10 – the range of available colors were pretty decent, but getting the perfect accent color for your PC was still difficult. But now with the Creators Update, you can create your own accent color and use it on your device. Microsoft has also added a neat color picker for the custom accent color feature, where you can essentially choose a color you like. If you are an advanced user, you can simply enter a hex color code or play around with the RGB/HSV values, too.
This new customization feature takes Windows 10 a step further in terms of personalization. It is not a huge feature by any means, but it is something I and a lot of other users have been waiting for. Being able to choose any color to use on your device is really neat, and the color picker makes it a lot easier to pick the exact color you want.
Moving on to the Start Menu in Windows 10 — there’s a small new customization feature here, too. Don’t fret though, there isn’t any major overhaul happening. Microsoft is, instead, adding a couple of new features to the Start Menu to make it somewhat better.
Firstly, you can now create folders of tiles on the Start Menu. This feature has been available on Windows Phone for a while now, but it’s now on PCs too and what this basically allows you to do is create a folder of live tiles on the Start Menu. Clicking on the folder will expand it and show all the tiles inside it, and you can customize the placements of the tile within the folder by dragging-and-dropping them.
Another neat addition to the Start Menu is the ability to hide the All Apps list on the side. If you are like me and use Cortana/Search to open apps rather than using the All Apps list to find and open apps, you might like this feature as it completely removes the All Apps list from the Start Menu. As a result, you only get to see the app tiles on the Start Menu which makes it look a lot cleaner.
Microsoft is also making some improvements to the Settings as per usual. The company is still far from removing the classic Control Panel, but with some of the previous Windows 10 updates it is modernizing more settings in Windows 10 and bringing them over to the Settings app. The Creators Update isn’t any different, either. Firstly, there’s a new dedicated page for Gaming settings, and there’s now a central place to control everything related to apps from the new Apps page. Microsoft has even upgraded the Bluetooth device setup experience, which feels a lot more streamlined than the old experience.
In addition to this, there is a new Troubleshoot area under the Update & Security section that lets you find and fix problems related to the different parts of your PCs – these are just shortcuts to the old troubleshooter in Windows, so Microsoft still has a lot of work to do in truly modernizing the Control Panel.Security
Security is a significant part of the Windows 10 Creators Update. Unlike some of the previous updates, the Creators Update does not bring a lot for users but it still brings some key improvements to Windows that will help users keep their PC more secure.
For the IT Pros, Microsoft is adding a lot of improvements to Windows Upgrade Analytics that will help IT Pros easily analyze their systems using deep insights gained from telemetry data. Microsoft is also including a whole range of new improvements to Windows Defender’s Advanced Threat Protection that debuted last year with the Anniversary Update. To sum it up, the Creators Update is pretty exciting even if you are an IT Pro or a security person. It is important to note that I didn’t get to try out these features made for IT Pros, so I wouldn’t really be able to comment on their usefulness.
But for consumers, there are some key changes coming with the Creators Update. For example, Microsoft is adding a new Dynamic Lock feature to Windows 10 with the Creators Update that automatically locks your PC when you are away from your PC. Windows 10 achieves this via Bluetooth – you’ll have to pair your phone with your PC via Bluetooth, and Windows 10 will automatically lock your PC when your phone is away from your PC. It’s a neat feature that will make sure no one access your PC when you are away from it.
The main new change in the Windows 10 Creators Update when it comes to security is the new Windows Defender, however. Redmond has completely revamped the Windows Defender app in Windows 10, and there’s now a new “Windows Defender Security Center” app built for Windows 10 devices that offers a much more modern experience that’s a lot easier to use than the classic defender. There are 5 different sections in the new Windows Defender: Virus & Threat Protection, Device Performance & Health, Firewall & Network Protection, App & Browser Control and Family Options.
The Virus & Threat Protection is where you can perform a quick scan for virus on your machine, and Microsoft is providing a whole set of different settings that you can enable to make your PC more secure and virus-free. The Device Performance & Health section, on the other hand, gives you info on your device’s health – for instance, if a device driver isn’t performing as expected, you will get a warning. I am not quite sure why this is under Windows Defender, but Microsoft probably has some sort of explanation for that.
The Firewall & Network protection area is a bit disappointing – what it basically does is show your firewall’s status and it links to some settings that takes you to the classic Control Panel where you can control the different firewall configurations. Microsoft probably didn’t have enough time to modernize all of this, so I assume it will be a while until you will be able to control the firewall settings right from the Windows Defender app.
And lastly, the App & Browser Control section lets you control the settings for SmartScreen and Microsoft Edge’s SmartScreen, too. Additionally, you can also setup SmartScreen for Windows Store apps by checking the web content used by your Windows 10 apps which is pretty neat. Oh, there’s also a Family Options area, but once again, you can’t control any of these right from the app – instead, the app takes you to Microsoft Account’s web app which is…not so user-friendly?
Microsoft also has a new feature that will help newbie users avoid installing malware on their PCs. The new feature allows users to prevent Win32 apps and UWP apps that aren’t from the Windows Store – essentially blocking users from downloading apps that could potentially harm their PC. This feature is disabled by default for obvious reasons, and users can easily enable it if they want. When you enable the feature, you can either choose to completely block installation of apps that aren’t from the Windows Store or you can choose to offer an option that will allow you to install an app if you really want to.
This feature still lets you download Win32 apps – but you will only be able to download Win32 apps that are available on the Windows Store. At the moment, not a lot of Win32 apps are available on the Windows Store but apps like Evernote and Slack are some of the best Win32 apps that you can get from the store. While this feature is really useful when it comes to avoiding malware, it isn’t really accessible easily. The feature is in the Settings app’s new Apps section, and that’s difficult to find – especially for the average joe who likely isn’t an expert in such stuff.
The security improvements coming with the Windows 10 Creators Update are really quite huge, both for IT Pros and consumers. The security enhancements in the Creators Update take Windows 10’s security a step further, and that is not anything surprising to see – especially since Windows 10 is supposed to be the most secure of Windows ever.New Setup Experience
Microsoft is entirely redesigning the setup experience (aka OOBE) in Windows 10 with the Creators Update. The new OOBE in Windows 10 includes a brand-new user interface, and Windows 10’s personal assistant is integrated right into the setup experience, too.
The new OOBE experience’s user interface is much cleaner than the previous OOBE which had elements that were still following the Windows 8.x design. The new OOBE, however, features a full Windows 10 design from the start to finish and it’s purely a much better experience when it comes to the design of the new OOBE.
The best thing about the new OOBE is the fact that users can configure their privacy settings before the OS is properly setup. If you are concerned about your privacy in Windows 10, you can disable things like relevant ads, speech recognition and location tracking on the device right from the OOBE which is going to be really useful for users who are concerned about their privacy.
The main part of the new OOBE is Cortana integration, however. Windows 10’s personal assistant is now integrated right into the OOBE and you can use your voice to setup your PC really easily thanks to the Cortana integration. When you first get into the new OOBE, Cortana will pop-up and walk you through the whole setup process in Windows 10. The Cortana integration in the OOBE is a nice addition, but it can get infuriating really quickly as setting up Windows 10 with Cortana takes a lot more time than the old method. Don’t get me wrong, the experience is really nice when you try it out for the first time, but if you clean-install your device frequently or have to setup a lot of PCs as part of your job, it might get really annoying pretty quickly.
Thankfully though, you can disable Cortana in the OOBE if you would rather user your keyboard and mouse to setup Windows 10. But turning off Cortana in the OOBE is also quite irritating as there isn’t a single button or shortcut to turn it off – instead, you will have to use the volume slider to turn Cortana off and that’s quite an annoyance. I realize that it’s just a simple volume slider, but a keyboard shortcut or button to turn Cortana off instantly would be a much, much nicer replacement. What would be even better is if Microsoft disabled Cortana by default and allowed users to enable it if they want to use their voice to setup Windows 10 instead.TBC