by Bill Snyder

What you need to know about the Windows 10 Creators Update

Feb 12, 2017
Consumer ElectronicsOperating SystemsSmall and Medium Business

Like it or not, you’re going to be running the Windows Creators Update in a few months. Here's what you can expect.

Windows 10 is only 18 months old, but Microsoft is just a few months away from delivering the operating system’s second major update. It’s called the “Creators Update,” and as Microsoft modestly explains “our goal is to have the effect of the Gutenberg Press on this next generation of computing, enabling 3D creativity, mixed reality, and eSports & game broadcasting for everyone.”

I’m not sure I’d liken a Windows update to the Gutenberg Press, but like it or not, Microsoft won’t take no for an answer. Like the last major update to Windows 10 — last summer’s Anniversary Update — this one will be large and more or less mandatory. Microsoft has made it difficult to opt out of updates and patches to Windows that it deems critical and this one will be no exception.

That’s not to say you want to run and hide when the update is ready. (It looks it will be released in April, though Microsoft won’t commit to a timeline beyond “early 2017.”) I haven’t had the chance to play with the various preview builds Microsoft has made available, but tech writers I respect have generally been rather positive about their experience with it. By all accounts, the Creators Update has a number of worthwhile features in addition to the whizzy multimedia stuff, and like the Anniversary Update, it’s free.

What the Creator update is all about

Here are some of the changes you’ll notice when you install the new update:

More privacy Windows collects a good deal of information on what users are doing when they run Windows 10 and Microsoft has never been clear on exactly what data it collects and what it does with it.

Privacy advocates and many in the tech press have criticized Microsoft for this, and it appears that the company has been listening. In a blog post last month Windows boss Terry Myerson said “we’re launching a new web-based privacy dashboard so you can see and control your activity data from Microsoft including location, search, browsing, and Cortana Notebook data across multiple Microsoft services. Second, we’re introducing in Windows 10 a new privacy set up experience, simplifying Diagnostic data levels and further reducing the data collected at the Basic level.”

It’s hard to know just what the dashboard will look like, and more importantly, how effective it and other features will prove to be. This is an area that really needs attention, so I’m hoping that Microsoft actually delivers some improvements here.

Microsoft Edge improvements: For my money, browsers have become a commodity, which is why I rarely write about them these days. Still, we use them all day, and Microsoft is (finally!) beefing up features in its Edge browser. Creators Update features improved tab management in Edge, something Mozilla’s Firefox has excelled at for some time. According to Microsoft, you will be able to preview visual thumbnails of all your open tabs at a glance, which sounds like a useful feature.

Edge will support 3D content without the use of plug-ins, and there will be tools that make it easier and more satisfying to read eBooks inside the browser, Microsoft says.

Paint 3D: Paint has been part of Windows for as long as I can remember and it hasn’t changed all that much. But Paint 3D in Creator’s Update, allows the familiar Paint brushes to work directly on 3D and “even your favorite photos become stickers on 3D models,” Microsoft Megan Saunders said in a blog post.