Weblog (or Blog)
Sunday, October 22, 2017
On October 17, Microsoft released the Fall Creators Update to Windows 10. This is the third major, named update since Windows 10 was originally issued on July 29, 2015. The previous three updates were the November Update (November 2015), the Anniversary Update (August 2016), and the Creators Update (April 2017). As with earlier major updates, it will take several months before everyone is updated.
Before Windows 10, Microsoft released a major upgrade about every 3 years: Vista in 2007, 7 in 2009, 8 in 2012, and 10 in 2015. Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows released and would be updated "as a service." The intent is to keep Windows 10 up to date almost continuously through frequent feature and security updates. Most of these updates occur on "Patch Tuesday," the second Tuesday of each month. In the future, the major feature updates will occur about twice a year, in spring and fall.
The "Patch Tuesday" updates are incremental updates that change only a small part of the code for Windows 10. Consequently, they are not large downloads to your computer. The major, named updates so far have been essentially a re-publication of the entire code of Windows 10. That resulted in a download of 3 to 4 gigabytes (GB), a big download. In the Creators Update of April 2017, Microsoft announced that even the major updates would be incremental, downloading only the changes to the Windows 10 code. The upcoming Fall Creators Update will be the first major update since that announcement, so we will see how much smaller the download is.
In any event, if your Internet connection has a limited data plan (for example, through a personal "hotspot" on your cell phone or a prepaid data plan such as Walmart's Straight Talk or a satellite), you should make sure it is set to a "metered" connection. To check or change the setting, do the following steps while you are signed into Windows with an administrator's account. Open the Settings app by pressing the Windows key and the letter I at the same time. Click the icon labeled Network & Internet and then click the link labeled "Change connection properties" under Network Status. The toggle switch labeled "Set as metered connection" should be On. (Note: if the toggle switch is grayed out (inactive), then you need to log in to Windows using an administrator's account.) If the switch is not On, click it to turn it on. Setting your Internet connection to metered will prevent the download of updates to your computer without your express permission. That way you can wait until you are connected with unlimited data, such as cable or DSL, before you allow the update to be downloaded.
The look of Windows will begin to change with the Fall Creators Update. Microsoft is using a new language called Fluent Design to create the visual elements of Windows. Eventually, the look of Fluent Design will show up in apps. The first place you will see the changes show up is the Start menu if you have transparency effects turned on in the Colors settings. The Action Center also has a new design although its function remains the same.
The Photos app in Windows 10 will get a cool update that allows you to mix photos and videos and 3D effects into a video. The new features are based on a Microsoft project called Story Remix.
With Windows 10 Mixed Reality, you will be able to use virtual reality headsets that are cheaper and easier to use than those currently available. There are other improvements to the ability to play games coming with the Fall Creators Update.
The default Windows 10 browser Edge will now be able to work with PDF forms for filling out online information. You will be able to write notes directly on the page of a PDF if you have a touch screen. Reading e-books in Edge is also improved.
The new My People feature allows you to manage your contacts easier. You can pin individual contacts to the taskbar to optimize and streamline communications with those contacts without opening an app first.
There are also a number of security improvements, tweaks to accessibility features that allow users to type using eye-tracking technology (designed specifically for persons with ALS), improvements to the OneDrive cloud interface, more information about the status of updates, and the ability to insert emoji easily.
Microsoft has said it will release major feature updates to Windows 10 two times each year, spring and fall. Plan to take our Exploring Windows 10 course each fall to get up to date on all the changes from the previous year.