By James Oxton

On 11/04/2017 Microsoft released the Windows 10 Creators Update, which introduces several changes and new features including the ability to trial apps without having to purchase.

The first thing to consider when installing the app in a business context is that it is going to be large. The current Patch size is unknown but as it stands, you can download a 3.6GB ISO image for this update alone.

3D for everyone

An exciting change included in the Creators Update is 3D for everyone – Microsoft says it wants Windows 10 to be a home for not only virtual reality, but also augmented reality and holographic computing, taking shape currently as the HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset.

To achieve what Microsoft is describing as its “2D to 3D journey” it is introducing a whole range of new tools that support 3D content. In an onstage demonstration during the announcement of the update, Microsoft showed how someone could take a 3D scan of a real-life object, in this case a sand castle, using their phone to upload it to Paint, tweak it, examine it in augmented reality using HoloLens, and then send it to a friend for them to look at in augmented reality. “We want you to move around a 3D world as naturally as you scroll through a document,” Microsoft say.

Your favourite people in your task bar

Another new feature is “Putting People in your Task Bar” this may not sound like an exciting update, but it’ll probably be one you find yourself using most. In the Windows 10 Creators Update, users will be able to pin icons for a select number of friends and family right to the task bar. You can then drag and drop files to these icons to share them as quickly as possible, and this space will act as a hub for messaging apps, aggregating communications from programs like Skype and email to make it accessible all in one place. Moreover, if you want to, you can even send an emoji-style nudge, which will appear right on that person’s desktop.

Cortana

Cortana includes a new feature also – a “Pick up Where I Left Off” service, which notifies users of their most recent documents and Edge browser history. Microsoft Edge gets upgraded with better tab management that includes the option to preview web pages just by hovering over separate tabs.

Edge also becomes Windows 10’s default e-reader, meaning you can read almost any e-book using the app, choosing your favorite font and text size, leave bookmarks, easily navigate using the table of contents or seek bar at the bottom of the window, and use Cortana to help search for and define specific words.

The Edge sandbox is now stricter with access to a wide range of Windows APIs prohibited, meaning that even if an attacker gets malicious code to run within the browser, that code now has far fewer opportunities to break out of the browser process and attack the system.

However, it also appears that the Windows 10 Creators Update will include more adverts than previous editions as Microsoft looks to make the most of the update.

Security

Security also gets an overhaul in this update, as Microsoft looks to make it easy to stay safe whilst using your device. The new Windows Defender Security Centre will ensure that users are protected by default, and provide a straightforward view at all the safety settings on your device. Biometric security is also included via Windows Hello, which lets you unlock your device by looking directly at it.

Microsoft is also looking to make app security more thorough, with new settings allowing users to choose which apps can be installed – meaning an end to dodgy third-party apps.

One thing to note is that Microsoft will be releasing the update in stages, this is of course to prevent their update servers being overloaded, however there’s very little information on how far apart these updates will be released.

Changes to automatic updates

Windows 10 has been criticised for rebooting for updates at awkward times. So from this update onwards, updates can now be snoozed for several days, and active hours, during which it should not reboot, have been expanded to cover 18 hours per day, rather than 12 in the previous version. All updates can be paused, for seven days, and the eventual reboots can be scheduled, too.

This is a great step in the right direction, and should satisfy most users. Microsoft is not backing away from automatic updating, and given the historic experience of consumer patch installation, this is probably the right move. Unpatched systems represent something of a public health hazard, thanks to their participation in spam and denial of service botnets, and given the choice, there are many users who will for no good reason defer updating endlessly.

Automatic installation greatly reduces the threat posed by Windows 10 machines, and the new settings should go a long way toward ensuring that systems aren’t rebooting in the middle of live broadcasts or when up against an urgent deadline, whilst still ensuring that Windows 10 overall remains up-to-date.

The main point to consider from a business standpoint is update size and the ability for updates to eat a lot of bandwidth.  The features alone in the update a worth the pain of updating, let alone the general performance and stability updates that Microsoft have done under the hood.

From a sales point of view, this update focuses on 3D art and VR, and this is a good opportunity to start showcasing these attributes, and being able to push into the graphics and design market that Apple has dominated for so long.  Our existing customers who want a smarter and faster yet secure way to use their machines, should be using Windows 10 Creators update if they’re not already.

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